While getting ready on the morning of my first full day at PeacePlayers, I did not know what to expect. I had visited Ireland many times before to see family and friends, both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. My grandfather had moved to Boston when he was just a teenager. He had previously lived in County Kerry, in the town of Tralee. He had 21 brothers and sisters, which is a creative way of stating that I still have a lot of family down in County Kerry. My grandmother on the other hand grew up in Portrush. She moved to the states to meet her uncle, a bachelor living in Charlestown, a neighborhood within Boston. I still have plenty of family in Northern Ireland that I visit every now and then, but being here in Belfast for the next three months will be a lot different than visiting for a few days.
Over the summer I was constantly in contact with Casey Tryon, an international Fellow at PPI-NI. She had helped me prepare for the journey to Belfast and gave me loads of advice on what I would be doing at PeacePlayers. I had previously researched a lot about what PeacePlayers does before accepting the internship. Their mission and visions of bringing peace to youth through the sport of basketball aligned with my goals of creating a better future for youth around the world. Going through the website, operations plan, and the blog gave me a better understanding of the organisation, but it was not until I arrived that I understood exactly who they were and what they did.
Previously I had worked for the Charlestown Boys and Girls Club, a youth organisation in Boston. I have seven years of experience working with youth there, and I have loved every minute. I also have experience coaching Baseball for the local teenagers’ team. These skills may be beneficial to my time in Belfast, although I did not know yet if I would be able to use them as much as I would like as an intern at the PeacePlayers office.
A stereotypical intern is at the bottom of the hierarchy in the office. When first applying for internships, I thought I would be running small errands and getting coffee for everyone. PeacePlayers, on the other hand, offered so much more than just an internship. During our first meetings and trainings I found out that I was going to gain experience with each of the office staff doing things such as grant-writing, coaching assistance, and social media. The staff immediately made me part of the team, and after only a week I am already very comfortable working with each of them.
I cannot wait to get involved with programmes such as primary school twinning’s and Champions4Peace. Reading and hearing about the positive outcomes that PeacePlayers brings to the community is exciting, especially when I know that I will be involved in creating those outcomes. It is not every day that one has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people. I am hoping to make the best of my time at PeacePlayers by meeting lots of new people and working my hardest to create a better future for Northern Ireland.