If you ask our longtime participants and staff what it feels like to be a part of PPI – ME and the answer you will most likely get will be “family.” That’s why, even when people depart for other pursuits, they never really leave. That’s how it was for Jamie Walsh, who finished her fellowship with PPI – ME in August 2014. Just one year later, Jamie is back in the Middle East, this time working with us full-time as a project manager on a couple new initiatives that we will be rolling out in the coming months. We sat down with Jamie to ask her what it’s like to be a PPI fellow returning to the program.
PPI: So, Jamie, what made you want to come back to PPI?
Jamie: Ever since I finished being a fellow, I stayed involved in PPI. I worked with the PPI head office in Washington, DC, on a
few different projects over the past year. About the Middle East, I really enjoyed the program, and the people here feel like family to me, so when I had the opportunity to come back, I was very excited about it.
When you finished your fellowship last summer, it was in the middle of the brutal conflict between Israel and Gaza. It was a really tough time in the region. Did that influence your decision to stay involved; did it make you hesitant?
I think if anything, times like that make you think how important the work of PeacePlayers is and how many lives the organization has touched. Times like that are really hard, but I feel like family with the people here and to be able to make an impact was really important to me. To continue on with it was a no-brainer.
How is your role going to be different this time around?
Before I was in the field a lot, playing basketball and spending most of my time with kids in Jerusalem. I really wanted to learn another side of the organization and sports management in general. This will be more of an administrative role, but I will definitely still be in the field a lot, and spending time with the kids, which is the best part. The best part of coming back is interacting with the kids and staff, and to see everyone on a daily basis. There is such a unique group of people that there is never a boring day.
Who inspires you?
What’s really inspiring is that I’ve known the older LDP for a few years, and I have seen them grow up, and I got to join them on their trip to the U.S. So, seeing the next generation, the LDP Junior and some kids who were Minis [PPI – ME’s term for its youngest participants, ages 6-10], still involved, growing up, and starting to take on more significant roles is really exciting. For example, Or from the Academic Sports Association (ASA) is a great basketball player. She was always a nice kid, but now I see how she’s really grown up. She is volunteering and talking to others about the work that PeacePlayers is doing and expressing to people outside how it has changed her.