Today’s blog is written by Development and Communication Intern, Allie Negron. Allie is a senior at American University majoring in Public Communication and French.
This past week the news was flooded with information about the senseless acts of violence that occurred in and nearby Paris, France. Within a period of three days innocent people were killed when terrorists attacked the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, a police officer in a Paris suburb and a kosher supermarket. The media focused in on France as information pertaining to the terrorist attacks unfolded, but the sad thing is that senseless attacks like these happen every day around the world. While they may not be to this severity or gain as much media attention, it makes you question why attacks, such as the ones in Paris, have to happen at all, and what can be done to create a more peaceful world.
A world of peace and mutual understanding is idyllic but it’s difficult to imagine solutions towards achieving this goal. That’s where PeacePlayers International steps in. Here at PPI we realize that in order to achieve peace and understanding you need to bridge divides and change perceptions…but this all takes time. We accomplish these goals gradually by uniting young people in divided communities through basketball. Obviously, basketball isn’t the solution to end violence, but rather a means to expose children to their peers in different communities. Initially, the children may think they have no commonalities but by having this mutual thing (basketball) to bond over they are able to connect despite religion, ethnic and cultural practices. With changed perceptions and newfound understanding, the children return to their families, impacting the way they view outside group as well, multiplying the program’s impact. Through sport, PPI is creating sustainable solutions that will positively impact the world for generations to come.
The rallies in Paris, and around the world, affirm the power of uniting for a common cause. With millions of people taking to the streets to participate in these marches, it demonstrates that despite religious and cultural differences, people will not stand for the killings of innocent people. No one wants to live in a world where they fear terrorist attacks and this is why programming like the peacebuilding-and-leadership development curriculum used by PPI is so important. PPI participants are living proof that changing perceptions and uniting communities across cultures is a successful solution towards creating a more peaceful world.