This week, one of PPI’s former youth participants, Toot Imbar, joined PPI’s staff as an assistant coach during a joint basketball practice or Twinning between teams from Kfar Saba and Meiser – Jewish and Arab villages located two hours north of Jerusalem. Through playing and working together, Twinnings help youth learn to see ‘the other’ as ‘people’ by creating a fun atmosphere that centers on teamwork.
While Toot has participated in and led many Twinnings in Jerusalem, this was Toot’s first time at a Twinning outside of the city. Toot has been part of PPI for 6 years now, and is currently a member of the Leadership Development Program (LDP), which gives Jewish and Arab participants the opportunity to gain leadership skills, become engaged in the community, and to assume different roles within PPI.
For this Twinning however, the goal was to challenge their team identity by focusing on the role of the individual. Instead of breaking up into teams, youth played to gain individual points. The drills and games were supposed to encourage the participants to compete as individuals, but instead they chose to cheer each other on. “When a kid was trying to make a basket to gain a point for himself, the other kids on the side were clapping and cheering for him to make the shot,” says Toot.”It was amazing to see this collective effort go above the diverse identities of the group too. Arabs, Jews, boys, and girls chose to cheer each other on, instead of only cheering for players sharing their own identity.”
This is only Kfar Saba’s second year and Meiser’s third year with PPI. “Honestly, I’ve never seen coaches work so well together, especially considering that the teams are relatively new to the program.”
The Twinning was also the first one to be held in Meiser, and the parents were thrilled and excited to host. “The parents wanted to welcome the Kfar Saba teams. They had great food ready for the players after they finished the Twinning. It was their way of showing their culture, hospitality, and sharing delicious food!”
The two communities have made great progress this year and are becoming more comfortable and friendly with each activity. The Twinning process takes time for relationships, mutual respect, and understanding to grow. Having former participants help is critical for creating the trust and sustainability necessary for long term change.
Thank you Toot, to all of PPI’s LDP and coaches, and to the Kfar Saba and Meiser communities for support of peace!