Running the Same Course in a Different Language

Mike Petty track and field course where events were held in Japan.

Today’s blog is written by PPI’s new Development and Communication Intern, Desiree Snyder. Desiree is a graduate student in the Sport Industry Management School at Georgetown University.

There it was, that feeling that everyone talked about, but I never really grasped. No, I’m not talking about the rush you get before the gun goes off and the adrenaline starts pumping through your veins. Nor am I talking about the feeling of butterflies in your tummy when you have to bow in the opening track ceremony and you swear you’re going to mess up. It was the feeling of the sport that I loved connecting me to people from all parts of the world.

As a teenager being raised in Okinawa, Japan, I found myself loving track with not a whole lot of schools to compete with. To be honest, it was either fly to the country located closest to you to compete or compete with the school next door that was half your size and had three people on the team. I remember my school was authorized to compete against schools in Hong Kong, so my junior year I packed my bags and hopped on a four hour flight to a destination that would impact my life forever.

Hong Kong marketplace where vendors sell fried bugs.

Hong Kong marketplace where vendors sell fried bugs.

As we approached the field we went to our assigned events to compete against athletes from Korea, Thailand, Northern Japan, China, and Taiwan. We were people from all different ethnicities, languages, and cultures with a common passion for running. This took us on a course leading into each others lives, whether it was Maymi swearing she was better than me at Sudoku, which I promise you she isn’t, me trying to convince Sayaka that Japanese bed mats are way better than Taiwan’s, or Iris laughing at me as I tried a fried beetle from the market place. This was our sport giving us a new family without even speaking the same language.
This track meet supplied me with an experience that sports continue to give people from all over the world. Brendan and Sean Tuohey believed in that feeling when they created PeacePlayers International in 2001. PeacePlayers International is providing individuals with that same impact of unity using basketball while also giving them a sense of family, overcoming conflicts, and helping them find themselves. Nasiphi Khafu, a former PPI-South Africa participant and current International Fellow for PPI-Northern Ireland said, “Sports fed me and I just want to show kids that nothing is impossible.” Alexis Gorgiou, a graduate of PPI’s Leadership Development Program in Cyprus, stated, “Through PPI I got over my fears and the stereotypes that were taught in school.”
Everyday PPI’s players and coaches are showing us how sport has no language. Sport is continuously changing my life and the lives of so many people who speak all types of languages while running the same course in life.

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