Hey! My name is LaToya Fisher and I am a new member of PPI-ME. It’s my first time in the Middle East, and I have been here for a little over one week. I am super excited about this opportunity, the FOOD, and working with these awesome kids and staff. I would like to introduce myself and give a little more insight to my background. I have always been drawn to helping others, making a global impact, traveling and working in sports.
I was born in a small town in upstate New York but spent most of my life in Maryland, right outside of Washington, D.C. I am a multi-sport athlete (basketball, volleyball, softball, American football) and have played sports since I was 7 years old. I have seen firsthand how a common interest, such as sports, can create strong friendships, teach valuable lessons and breakdown barriers.
I was fortunate enough to attend and play four years of basketball at Shepherd University in West Virginia, where I was also a student assistant during my 5th year. I had a pretty successful career while playing and I graduated with a degree in Sport and Event Management.
After college, I moved back to Maryland. Like most students fresh out of college, I entered the work force in something completely unrelated to my degree. I spent a few years working before I decided to apply for grad school. In 2009, Georgetown University started a Sports Industry Management program. I decided to apply and was accepted into the program. During the process, I had to write an essay about what I wanted to do with my life. I started doing research and found out about PeacePlayers. I watched the video on the website about a twinning in Israel, and I was convinced that this was my absolute dream job.
I looked at the application and requirements for the PeacePlayers fellowship and felt that I had plenty of basketball experience but not a lot of administrative experience and had never lived in another country. So…In February 2011, I got the bright idea to take a leave of absence from Georgetown to teach English in South Korea for a year. There is nothing more terrifying than speaking in front of 30 children with varying levels of English comprehension. Teaching and living abroad also forced me to overcome some difficult barriers to make new friends, gain trust and acceptance, and learn to communicate more effectively through many different channels, and not just rely on speaking.
In March 2012, I came back home and began working and going to school again. In May of 2013, I graduated with my master’s degree in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown. I finally worked up enough nerve to send in my fellowship application and now I am typing to you from my cozy little room in Israel.
In this first week I have already witnessed so many wonderful things and seen how dedicated everyone is to the program. The kids are full of energy and eager to learn and play basketball. I was lucky enough to see a twinning on my second day here, and it was wonderful. I also had the chance to attend a retreat already and it was an experience I will never forget. My first week and a half has been packed with great food, laughs, basketball, and genuine people. I cannot wait to see what else is in store. I look forward to learning from the staff and players and hope to impact them and the program as much as they will impact me.