Beginning March 16, 30 Israeli and Palestinian youth from the Middle East will visit Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia, PA for a ten-day cultural exchange supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The exchange is the culmination of a two year in-country Leadership Development Program led by American athletes and educators to facilitate a cadre of young Palestinians and Israelis who will work together through sports. This exchange is part of the U.S. Government’s foreign policy efforts to assist those who believe that people of different nationalities, ethnicities and creeds can live alongside one another constructively and in peace. During their visit to the United States, the group will engage in workshops with an emphasis on conflict resolution, sports management, leadership, and participate in basketball and mentorship programs with American youth. Upon returning home, the group will continue to receive leadership training and hands-on practice in facilitating inter-group sports and educational programs within PeacePlayers – Middle East, sharing their experiences with hundreds of local children and working together to create social change in their communities.
PeacePlayers International (PPI) was founded on the premise that “children who play together can learn to live together.” Since 2001, PPI has served over 70,000 youth and trained more than 1,700 youth leaders in 15 countries spanning five continents. Through a groundbreaking peacebuilding-and-leadership development curriculum, PeacePlayers International uses basketball to bring children together and teach them proven tactics for improving their communities. In addition to year-round programs in South Africa, Northern Ireland, Israel, and Cyprus, PPI’s Sports and Peace Innovation Network (PPI – SPIN) is helping other youth development organizations harness the power of sport for civic engagement, leadership development and conflict transformation.
The SportsUnited Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs uses the international language of sports as a tool to promote tolerance, understanding, and the peaceful resolution/prevention of conflict. Through Sports Diplomacy, the State Department increases awareness among young people of the importance of following a healthy lifestyle and making smart decisions. Additionally, the State Department seeks to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities by providing inclusive sports opportunities that contribute to the physical and psychological health of people at all ages.