Follow the Leader – Learning From PPI Fellow Ashley Johnson

Ryan experiences his first Cypriot meal the night he gets to the island.

Ryan experiences his first Cypriot meal the night he gets to the island.

Ryan Hage is PPI’s newest International Fellow. He recently made his way to Cyprus to begin helping kids form new friendships and come together. Since arriving, he has had the help of veteran PPI – Cyprus Fellow Ashley Johnson to show him the ropes and give him as smooth a transition as possible. Ryan interviewed Ashley to learn more about the time she has spent in Cyprus and the things she has accomplished with PeacePlayers.
As someone who was brand new to the organization and island, I was completely lost on pretty much everything when I first arrived. From driving on the left side of the road to coaching 9 year olds, PPI – Cyprus Fellow Ashley Johnson has been extremely helpful in showing me the ropes and I thought I would interview her on her thoughts about the program and everything in between.
As a fellow, what has been the most enjoyable part of your time on the island?
Getting out to the practices and on the court with the kids. I love having the opportunity to be a part of their lives in a positive way. The connections that I have made with the coaches, players, and extended PPI family are something that I will cherish forever.
 
What is the most challenging part of your job as a fellow?
Here in Cyprus, the most challenging part is communication. The language barrier between Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot children can be tough to overcome. You try to connect with them any way possible. Body language goes a long way and basketball is the common ground for all of these kids, which they all understand.
 

Coach Ashley shows kids a dribbling drill in Kyrenia

Coach Ashley shows kids a dribbling drill in Kyrenia

What are the different ways you try make the game fun for all of the participants?
You have to have a lot of energy, excitement, and enthusiasm. If you are having a good time on the court it is contagious. The kids pick up on that and they tend to have a better time when everyone else is excited and into it.
How do you feel about the progress made since you joined back in 2012?
We have had a great year and a half since joining PeacePlayers. It is hard to put into words in how much we have done. From bringing in NBA and WNBA players to our summer camp to having a bi-communal team travel to Norway to partake in an international tournament. It was the first time Cyprus has been represented internationally by a Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot joint team.
 
What is it like having another fellow around to help?
I am super excited to have Ryan here. We have so many projects going on and having someone with Ryan’s coaching skills and passion for the game, it is a huge benefit to our program. Also, its nice to have another person around to share the fellowship experience with.
Ashley and former PPI Fellow Kristin Degou coaching together in Cyprus

Ashley and former PPI Fellow Kristin Degou coaching together in Cyprus

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