PPI-ME International Fellow Heba El-Hendi gives us a glimpse on how these young leaders are preparing for the Social Change Program.
PeacePlayers Middle East is gearing up for a trip to the United States! On October 6th, Palestinian and Israeli youth will be crossing the Atlantic for a two week intensive trip covering four States and multiple cities.
The theme of this trip is a cultural exchange for future leaders. During the exchange, youth will have the unique chance to meet with experts in the field of sports management, athletes, and coaches. They will also meet political, conflict resolution, and business leaders in the community to expand their scope on leadership and community involvement. They will also learn to articulate their narratives and experiences within PeacePlayers with discussion panels.
Modeling the exchange theme, Jamie Walsh, our International Fellow from last year, will reunite with PeacePlayers while accompanying the youth on the trip. While Jamie was here, she had the opportunity to experience the society and culture these players come from. This time around, the youth will encounter Jamie’s culture and visit her home.
This past weekend, trip participants had a pre-departure retreat to prepare them on what to expect and how to present one’s self through speech. We conducted mock panels to stimulate the topics and environments the youth may face. Mainly the youth spoke about their leadership roles, basketball, social change, and their experiences with the conflict. The players encouraged and supported each other by giving constructive feedback. As a new addition to the PeacePlayers team I was impressed by how the young Palestinian and Israelis conducted themselves in their responses. Each individual came with a unique perspective and background, and as they were granted the appropriate environment to express themselves openly, many felt respected and became more comfortable in voicing their opinions.
Knowing that most of the interactions in the States will be conducted in English, the participants pushed
themselves to respond in English during mock panels. Some of the youth had near native levels while others had introductory skills. Nonetheless, those with beginner level English challenged themselves to speak in a language they were not fully knowledgeable in. This showed their commitment to improve their language skills. Overall, the youth were impressed and appreciated the opportunity to hear their peers’ narratives and personal experiences with PeacePlayers.
Thank you to the U. S. Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs for supporting the Youth Coaches for Social Change program.