What PPI-CY Continues to Teach Me

Lead4Peace Participant, Helen Partakki, has been a part of PPI-CY for more than 4 years

Lead4Peace Participant, Helen Partakki, representing PPI-CY at a NGO fair in Nicosia

Today’s blog is written by Helen Partakki, one of PPI-Cyprus’ Lead 4 Peace participants. Helen, a Greek-Cypriot from Nicosia, has been with PeacePlayers for over 4 years and has become a great mentor and role model for younger participants of the program

Hello ladies and gents who have just started to read this blog post and let me just say this is my first blog post ever! Isn’t this awesome?  Oh well, before I get into why I am part of all this and my story, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Eleni Partakki, but people do tend to call me Helen. I am a 15 year old gal in the island of Cyprus with a love for basketball, reading, and volunteering. I’ve been called social junkie by day and book junkie by night. Throughout my life I genuinely loved learning about people and different cultures. I think life enthusiast describes me best.

PeacePlayers builds friendships

Helen (far right) building friendships through PeacePlayers.

I have been attending PPI-CY events since I was 11, but I officially joined last March. I remember sending a Facebook message asking one of the coaches if I could attend. I didn’t really know what I was getting into, considering I heard negative and positive feedback about PPI-CY. I decided what better way to find out than just going to experience it myself? I really do live by the quote, “Don’t believe everything you hear. Real eyes, realize, real lies.”

Why did I join? Simple, it gave me purpose and it made me happy. It gave me the feeling of belonging somewhere. It was a place where your goals and hobbies harmonize with the goals of an organization. Being a part of that is the most satisfying feeling in the world.

Helen with her new friends from Norway!

Helen with fellow Lead4Peace Participants traveled to Norway together for an international sport and culture exchange.

Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”. I participate in PPI-CY because playing basketball together can be such an incredible experience when you start to understand that you are a human being just like the person on the other side of the border. Also, once you take the time to talk to your teammate about their culture, that is when you really start to become great. In that moment you learn to respect every single individual, and for me, that is the best thing PPI-CY has taught me.

People outside the community of the PeacePlayers often ask me what my favorite experience is. Many expect me to include the word basketball in my answer, but sorry, not this time. What I cherish the most are the smiles that are being exchanged amongst the youngest of our kind, who even don’t speak a common language. They are so innocent and haven’t been bombarded with negative information yet.

At the end of the day, when you are all alone left with your thoughts, it is your decision what you really want to believe. Take a leap of faith. Do not let the ideas given to you by others affect the choices and actions you make. If I would have allowed that, I wouldn’t be a participant today.

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