Cyprus

It’s Wedding Season!

This week’s blog was written by Cyprus Fellow Sean Wright about his experience attending his first traditional Cypriot wedding and how much fun he had during it. 

This past weekend was one of the most interesting, fun, exciting times of my life. I was fortunate enough to celebrate the marriage between Gunnar Hagstrom, PPI’s Chief Program Officer and Cyprus Fellow alumnus, and his fiancé the beautiful Maria Papadopoulou, who being Greek Cypriot meant the wedding was over here in Cyprus. Also, my cousin Rory (Cyprus Fellow alumnus) and his girlfriend Amanda came over for the festivities as well, so I was very excited to BE with them and experience my first traditional Cypriot wedding.

Maria and Gunnar at the altar.

To start things off, being the great cousin that I am, I picked up Rory and Amanda at 3:45 AM on Thursday morning. I definitely scored some points for that. And they came bearing gifts! Franks Red Hot and dryer sheets (for some reason I haven’t been able to find any over here, and my roommate Jess is starting to hide her’s from me – Yes Jess I’m calling you out! ). We got back to the flat and slept a little, and then the three of us went into the Old City to walk around. Rory took us to his favorite spots around the city, where I had my first frappe which I enjoyed.

Myself, Amanda, Rory. Amanda was lucky enough to have 2 dates!

I took them by the office, which was in a new and better location from what Rory had told me. As we were walking around the Old City, we kept passing by this school with an outdoor court in which Rory proceeded to tell us about the time he had to plan a 100+ tournament by himself. This tournament in his eyes was the most impressive thing he had ever done to that date. It just so happened that we heard about this tournament 10 more times over the next couple days! As much as I joke, it does sound very impressive how he managed to pull this off and how efficient it ran.

Later that night, Rory, Amanda, and myself went to dinner with some of Rory’s favorite people from when he was here. We had a nice Cypriot mezze meal, good conversation, and heard many stories of Rory and his time here. I’m lucky to be cousins with Rory, because at that dinner I could see the impact he had on not only PeacePlayer’s, but more importantly on the lives of these individuals. I hope to be able to have a similar impact during my time here in Cyprus. After the wonderful dinner, the three of us went to an event that was held for the American contingency that made the long trip over from the States. This was a great time, where I got to meet Gunnar’s family who are all so kind and generous.

Rory, Gunnar, and myself took a break from the dancing to snap this pic.

It was impressive to see so many of Gunnar’s friends and family make the journey over here. It speaks volumes about the type of people Gunnar and his family are, and how they have impacted so many lives.

The next day was wedding day, so we got all dressed up and went to Maria’s parents house for the beginning of the wedding ceremonies. As we got there, Gunnar was in the basement preparing to get dressed. Now, he doesn’t dress himself. He has his groomsman help him out. And the strangest thing I saw was that the best man had to shave Gunnar in front of everyone. It was something so fun to watch. If I was the best man, my nerves would be making me shake all the while trying not to cut the groom because then you have him pissed off at you, but more importantly, the bride would be furious with you and that’s a scary thought! After Gunnar was shaved and dressed, it was time for Maria’s turn.

The Best Man starting the shaving process.

She looked elegant in her dress, and the dressing was finished by her bridesmaids putting her shoes and vail on. Of course, her Maid of Honor did not have to shave her. From the house, a bus took us to the beautiful wedding ceremony. The church was very old, but the inside was filled with gold looked magnificent. The actual ceremony was difficult to follow, as most was spoken in Greek. I didn’t know when to stand or sit, and as I was sitting down and the other half of the church was standing, everyone started exiting the building. I start thinking “What just happened? Is it over? Did they kiss? Should I stand or sit?” It caught me so off guard, but all in all it was a beautiful ceremony. They held a cocktail hour next to the church, where I saw Gunnar and Maria stand in front of the receiving line and greet people for almost 2 hrs. It was insane the amount of cheeks the both of them kissed. After that, it was time for the main reception at the Chateau Status, a beautiful venue located in the buffer zone. They had traditional Cypriot folk dancers come and perform which was very cool to see. Made me think of how long these traditions have gone on for, and who in the world started them. After that, we had a very delicious meal full of meats, pita, salads, and tasty treats. Once done with that, it was time to boogie.

Dance on a table? Why not!

We started dancing around midnight and didn’t stop until 3 in the morning. A mixture of American tunes with Cypriot ones was the best of both worlds. I got to twist and shout while also rocking out to songs I couldn’t understand. No matter what, if there is a dance floor I’m making my way onto it. To cap the night off, Rory, Amanda, and myself took a stretch Volvo taxi back to my flat which made us look pretty cool.

Sunday came the end of Rory and Amanda’s stay here in Cyprus, so we went to the beach for a few hours before they had to depart for the airport. The weather was great, water was cool, and good times were had. I was so happy to have them here, even if it was only for a few days. Family is very important to me, so any time I get to see them is great.

When I speak about family, it was so noticeable how PeacePlayer’s is one big family. The strong relationships that that have been built through PeacePlayer’s is so important to me. No matter the cultural differences that people may have, PPI breaks those down and brings about friendships that will last forever. That’s what I saw this past weekend. Thank you, Maria and Gunnar, for allowing me to experience such a wonderful time. I wish you both everlasting happiness.

Me and my sweet ride

seanwright33It’s Wedding Season!
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Meet, Sean! PeacePlayers-Cyprus’ New Fellow!

This week’s blog is written by Sean Wright. Sean arrived to Cyprus Wednesday, the 23rd to begin his Fellowship with PPI-CY. Below is a recap of his first couple of days on the island.

My name is Sean Wright and I am the new Fellow here at PeacePlayers International in beautiful Cyprus. Words can’t describe how excited I am to be apart of this amazing team doing something as awesome as this. With that being said, I want to give a little background on myself. I am 23 years old, turning 24 very soon. I attended Providence College in Rhode Island from 2010-2014. While there, I played lacrosse and was captain my final 2 years. Before that, I was a varsity basketball player. My love for basketball has been something engraved in me since I was born. My father played at Boston University and has his jersey retired there so from the day I was born, I had a basketball in my hand.

I have known about PeacePlayers for awhile now. My cousin Rory O’Neil was a Fellow for 4 years, having spent 2 years in Cyprus, then another 2 years in Northern Ireland. I was familiar with PPI’s work but had never thought about becoming a part of this special team until Rory and I had a nice talk about what kind of work I wanted to do. I told him that there was nothing really catching my eye back home, and having known my experience in international coaching, he suggested PPI. He told me all of the wonderful things that I had already known, but this time something clicked with me. Right then I knew I wanted to work in this beautiful country of Cyprus, and be able to do something really meaningful in the world.

I have been here all of 2 days and I can’t wait for more. I got to go with Jessica (another Fellow in Cyprus) to my first practice yesterday on the North side of the island. We went to The English School of Kyrenia to coach girls ranging from Year 3 to Year 6. I had so much fun coaching these girls! They wanted to learn, but most importantly they wanted to have fun. We were laughing, giving high-fives, running around just having a blast. It was after that one practice that I knew I had made the right choice.

Tomorrow is going to be my first twinning, where the Greek Cypriots (GC) and Turkish Cypriots (TC) come together and have a practice. I am very excited for this because this is why I came to Cyprus. Being able to bring these two sides together through the game that brought me so much joy and means so much to me is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am thankful to PPI for letting me do just that. I can’t wait for what this 2 year journey has in store for me!

jwalton2015Meet, Sean! PeacePlayers-Cyprus’ New Fellow!
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It’s Never Too Late to Make a Change!

Meet the Waegger’s, a family of five from Nesodden, Norway! After working with PPI-CY during a couple of exchange trips, their wonderful family moved to Cyprus last August to volunteer their services. They have been an enormous help and wonderful partners to our PPI-CY family. They are Camilla (10), William (13), Kristian (16), Gøril and Roar.

The Waegger family.

April 2013 was our first meeting with PeacePlayers. The former Norwegian Ambassador to Cyprus and Greece, Mr. Sjur Larsen, made it possible for PeacePlayers Cyprus to go to Norway. A bi-communal team of 12 great young boys from Cyprus came to Nesodden, a suburb to Oslo, to stay with basket players from Nesodden Basket for one week.

After this inspiring week, PPI-CY and Nesodden Basket decided to build further on our started bilateral friendship. We started to plan a youth program together, called Lead4Peace. The year after, 9 Norwegian youths visited Cyprus for a week and it was incredible. 4 months later, Cypriots came to visit us again at Nesodden, and we defined Lead4Peace a tradition!

Nessoden Basket and our PPI-CY leaders during last Spring’s exchange tripe.

When Gøril visited Cyprus on the first exchange trip she fell in love with the island, its people, atmosphere, climate, and of course with the important work PeacePlayers does in bringing the youths, and coaches together. She and Kristian came home very enthusiastic and overwhelmed the others with all of their experiences. A family meeting was now necessary, because on the agenda was one topic – can we make it possible to move to Cyprus for a limited time? The vote was unanimous “yes, we can!”

So, here we are. We moved here to, among other things, volunteer for PeacePlayers, ready to do whatever you would like us to do! We do hope to be able to contribute more in the next 6 months, and get to know the inside of PeacePlayers even better. Our interest in conflict resolution has made this year even more interesting because of the ongoing, intense negotiations. The kind of work PeacePlayers is doing in bi-communal work among the young generation on the island is very important for a future united Cyprus. By getting to know each other as individual human beings we can see with our own eyes how they change perception of each other, their respective cultures and religions. In our point of view, this work is the most important peace work that is done – bridging the divides so that one day people in Cyprus can live respectfully and tolerant together.

PPI-CY leaders in Norway with Nessoden Basket.

Our volunteer work will probably be concentrated around planning the new and extended Lead4Peace project. We recently got more than 120,000 Euro from the Erasmus+ in Oslo to continue the exchange program, and we are really looking forward to including Israel/Palestine and Northern Ireland. In February 2017, Nesodden Basket are looking forward hosting a PeacePlayer-family for a week in a winter wonderland while learning to ski!

We are turning 50 in a few years, but we have learned that it is never too late to make some changes in your life. Our change: to take a GAP year, to get to know Cyprus, its people, PeacePlayers, their people and their work, is bringing new values into our lives. The youth, coaches and staff we have meet with PeacePlayers are all warm, including, interesting and dedicated people! Thank you so much for letting us be a part of you great organization!

jwalton2015It’s Never Too Late to Make a Change!
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Building Leaders at PPI-CY

This week’s blog was written by Jessica Walton and Ryan Hage, two fellows who met during their shared time at PPI-CY and have been inspired by their leaders ever since.

Sport has the power to bring out leadership skills in the simplest form: through a common goal. Those of us who call ourselves PeacePlayers are lucky enough to be able to work with an organization that uses sport as a way to build relationships in a conflict area. Sure, it brings children together who otherwise may have never met, but it also gives participants a chance to become leaders. They dare to be bold and play basketball with someone from the ‘other side.’

Some of our oldest Cypriot participants have transformed from shy young girls and boys, afraid to speak and play with kids from outside of their communities, into strong and outspoken leaders, tasked with greeting public figures such as professional basketball players visiting camp or better yet, public officials like US Secretary John Kerry. Young people who start up their first Twinning with extremely limited English, quickly become the participants chosen to present the mission of PeacePlayers to ambassadors and CEO’s of corporations. They state, “Why did I join? Simple, it gave me purpose and it made me happy. It gave me the feeling of belonging somewhere.” Sport has provided them with purpose and a sense of stability.

Through this new confidence, participants become leaders at the age of fifteen in ways that most adults cannot fathom. Being part of a bi-communal organization is a very courageous thing to do on the island, no matter what age. Many see it as a form of betrayal, fraternizing with the enemy, even though the conflict has not been violent in many years. Ask any leader…many will share a story of a skeptical friend or family member who poked fun at their new choice of extra-curricular activity or even worse, judged them in a negative light. Each of their responses will be different but equally moving, reflecting their desire for change and their overwhelming belief in bridging divides, developing leaders and changing perceptions.

For many, PeacePlayers acts as a safety net of sorts. Leaders look forward to entering a safe environment and a special community where building new relationships is encouraged and exuding confidence and the ability to stand up for what you believe to be true is not only admired but truly valued. Being a leader isn’t easy; like any worthwhile challenge there is risk involved. However, it is those risks and the choice to accept those challenges along the way that mold character and shape each of our leaders into the young people they are today. Using sport we put discipline, honesty, integrity, trust and BASKETBALL into practice each day. And we have every faith that our leaders will guide us in the future during times of adversity!

jwalton2015Building Leaders at PPI-CY
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Cheers to the New Year from PPI-CY

This week’s blog was written by International Fellow, Jessica Walton. Here’s a quick glimpse at some of our highlights for the 2015 season and a quick run down of whats in store for the New Year!

Happy New Year from all of us here at PeacePlayers-Cyprus! We hope you had a wonderful holiday season and brought in the New Year with family and friends. 2015 was a wonderful year for our PPI-CY family. Participants from each of our twelve teams spread throughout the island took part in Twinnings (mixed basketball trainings with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot teams), two tournaments and leadership development trainings, and our annual summer camp.

International Fellow, Jessica coaching at Camp 2015.

Not to be forgotten are the countless hours in the gym where our players spent time developing their individual skills, thanks to our wonderful coaching staff! In addition to basketball skills, at each practice, PeacePlayers get to implement their communication, teamwork and leadership skills within their own local communities.

We capped off the year with a special event hosting United States Secretary of State, John Kerry at our very own court in the United Nations Buffer Zone at Ledra Palace Hotel. Our leaders were given the chance to put their skills on display for the Secretary, speak to him personally, present him with an official PeacePlayers t-shirt, and pose for photos. We are so grateful to our wonderful friends at the US Embassy for presenting us with this opportunity.

Kerry at the Ledra Palaca Hotel Court signing basketballs and speaking with leaders.

2016 looks like it will be an even more rewarding and exciting year than the last, as we continue with our regular programming and add some fresh, new global events into the mix. PeacePlayers will be partaking in a new exchange program which will begin this year, allowing LDP participants to visit programs in Cyprus, the Middle East, Northern Ireland and one of partnering Erasmus programs based in Norway. During these exchange trips our participants will learn new skills and use tools which will make them more confident, stronger leaders. Planning for the program begins this February, as we host representatives from each site right here in Cyprus!

Coach Nicos with LDP leader Veley Petkov

We would like to thank each and every one of our coaches, players and local staff members for helping to make 2015 a great year. We are so excited to continue to collaborate with you all throughout 2016. Thanks to each individual and all of the groups/organizations who contributed their time and/or money to making our program a success. Happy New Year to all!

jwalton2015Cheers to the New Year from PPI-CY
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Visits PeacePlayers in Cyprus

Cyprus – On Dec. 3 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took time out of his six-nation European tour to visit PeacePlayers International (PPI) and learn how their young leaders are using sport to unite the divided country. Secretary Kerry was in Cyprus for talks with Cypriot leaders to encourage progress toward ending the island’s 40-year conflict.

Recognizing the important role PPI has played as Cyprus’ only bi-communal sports peace building organization, Secretary Kerry chose to spend time with our young peace makers, telling reporters:

“Today I have witnessed that desire for change firsthand and I have seen a real passion for peace. I just came from a youth basketball practice game, scrimmage, not far from here, and the group was called PeacePlayers – young Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots shooting hoops together… And with peace, someday that very group of kids may be building businesses together, opening joint NGOs, or even leading this island together.”

Read Article on Reuters

Cyprus has been physically divided by a United Nations Buffer Zone since an inter-ethnic war in 1974 split the island into two separate Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities. Today, many youth grow up without ever meeting anyone from the “other side.”

With key institutional partners like the U.S. Embassy, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, adidas and the European Union, PPI – Cyprus brings together thousands of children from both communities to play, learn, and build positive relationships. Explains PPI participant Alim Sancar:

“After 6 years of being a part of this organization and after meeting hundreds of Greek-Cypriots, I realized how much I want there to be peace and unity between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots.”

For many, the current peace talks are creating a new sense of hope. Last week leaders said they saw an opportunity to move toward a solution for the division, with one Cypriot official telling Reuters that the island was closer than ever to ending its partition, and the two sides could agree on the text of a deal by May.

To learn more about PPI and ways you can help, please visit our website at: http://www.peaceplayersintl.org

PeacePlayersIntlU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Visits PeacePlayers in Cyprus
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The Holiday Season Approaches at PPI-CY

There is a lot to be thankful for at PPI-CY!

PPI-CY begins a busy holiday season following the Thanksgiving holiday. With a leadership retreat and Winter Tournament right around the corner, International Fellow, Jessica Walton reflects on what she’s thankful for this holiday season and describes what’s in store this next month before Christmas break.

“Where to begin…there are so many wonderful things to be thankful for this holiday season. Although I’m away from home the PPI-CY family is going to sit down next Monday for a belated “Friendsgiving.” It’s crazy to think it’s been about eight months since I arrived in Cyprus. I remember packing my bags in March with a million and one questions on my mind. Will the kids like me? Will I fit in? What will the people be like?

Luckily for me I have a wonderful set up here at PPI-CY! I am fortunate enough to work with some of the most kind and welcoming people around. On top of that, I’ve been coaching, playing and learning from some of the most AMAZING kids who’ve taught me so much about life and the game of basketball. Their never-ending supply of laughs and smiles has helped make my experiences at PPI-CY even more incredible than I could have ever anticipated.

Summer 2015 will certainly be going in the books as one of the best I have ever had. I really got to know our kids this summer while I coached and played at our PPI practices. I took part in my first summer camp, an exceptional experience where I met new faces and members of the PPI family. I made incredible new friends, visited three different countries, explored Cyprus and soaked up the sun at the most gorgeous Mediterranean beaches.

Keeping with the theme of things to be thankful for, this weekend PPI-CY heads to the mountains in Agros for our first leadership retreat! The excitement has been building up the past couple of weeks as this is our first big event of the season! And to top it all off, we have Sbahle with us, a special guest from PeacePlayers South Africa. Sbahle is also a representative of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and will be facilitating our classroom sessions focusing on leadership and self-identity.

The fun doesn’t end with Friendsgiving either! Following our weekend retreat we have our Winter Tournament the second weekend in December and will be hosting our first Twinning of the year. Be sure to check out our Facebook page as we update you with new photos from our upcoming events.

jwalton2015The Holiday Season Approaches at PPI-CY
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The Holiday Season Approaches at PPI-CY

There is a lot to be thankful for at PPI-CY!

PPI-CY begins a busy holiday season following the Thanksgiving holiday. With a leadership retreat and Winter Tournament right around the corner, International Fellow, Jessica Walton reflects on what she’s thankful for this holiday season and describes what’s in store this next month before Christmas break.

“Where to begin…there are so many wonderful things to be thankful for this holiday season. Although I’m away from home the PPI-CY family is going to sit down next Monday for a belated “Friendsgiving.” It’s crazy to think it’s been about eight months since I arrived in Cyprus. I remember packing my bags in March with a million and one questions on my mind. Will the kids like me? Will I fit in? What will the people be like?

Luckily for me I have a wonderful set up here at PPI-CY! I am fortunate enough to work with some of the most kind and welcoming people around. On top of that, I’ve been coaching, playing and learning from some of the most AMAZING kids who’ve taught me so much about life and the game of basketball. Their never-ending supply of laughs and smiles has helped make my experiences at PPI-CY even more incredible than I could have ever anticipated.

Summer 2015 will certainly be going in the books as one of the best I have ever had. I really got to know our kids this summer while I coached and played at our PPI practices. I took part in my first summer camp, an exceptional experience where I met new faces and members of the PPI family. I made incredible new friends, visited three different countries, explored Cyprus and soaked up the sun at the most gorgeous Mediterranean beaches.

Keeping with the theme of things to be thankful for, this weekend PPI-CY heads to the mountains in Agros for our first leadership retreat! The excitement has been building up the past couple of weeks as this is our first big event of the season! And to top it all off, we have Sbahle with us, a special guest from PeacePlayers South Africa. Sbahle is also a representative of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and will be facilitating our classroom sessions focusing on leadership and self-identity.

The fun doesn’t end with Friendsgiving either! Following our weekend retreat we have our Winter Tournament the second weekend in December and will be hosting our first Twinning of the year. Be sure to check out our Facebook page as we update you with new photos from our upcoming events.

jwalton2015The Holiday Season Approaches at PPI-CY
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New Beginnings with PPI-CY’s Sophia Georgiou

 

Sophia with her fellow campers at PPI-CY summer camp 2015

This week’s blog is written by PeacePlayers Alum, Sophia Georiou. Sophia recently enrolled in her first year of university in Nicosia. An active member of PPI-CY and the Leadership Development Program for the past few years, Sophia decided to reflect on her time with PeacePlayers and the beginning of her new journey at university.

Hi Guys! My name is Sophia and I’m from Larnaca, Cyprus. I’ve been a PeacePlayer for a few years and I’ve just begun my first year of university in Nicosia. A few months ago I moved out of my family home and into a new city with my brother who is also studying in university. I decided to focus my studies on radiotherapy and radio diagnostics. So far I’m really enjoying my lessons, particularly anatomy and radio physics.

Sophia, Helin and Toot at PPI-CY summer camp 2015

I was so surprised to find that while making this new transition from high school to university, I would find similarities in some of my sessions I had while I was with PeacePlayers. I participated in a classroom session at a Leadership Development retreat. We were learning about setting, achieving and maintaining goals in the long-term and short-term. I can easily relate to goal setting here in university as I work towards achieving and sustaining a strong GPA, set up study schedules, plan projects and study for midterms.

Sophia with Coach Steph

Luckily for me, my PeacePlayers family is still around to support me. My first day of classes I got lost and was having trouble finding the school. Thanks to my great relationship with one of my PPI coaches Steph (who happens to live close by), she picked me up and helped me find my way around. Some of my favorite memories come from my time spent at PPI. I had a blast at the last summer camp, meeting up with my old friends and making new ones with the participants from other PPI sites. I’ll never forget hanging out with my friends Mush and Toot and scaring our friends in between our basketball and classroom sessions! Thankfully we caught some of it on camera. It’s nice to know that as I start this new chapter filled with new memories, I can still hold on to these great ones. It’s great that I’m able to keep in touch with my PPI friends and even find time to meet up with some of them too.

jwalton2015New Beginnings with PPI-CY’s Sophia Georgiou
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An Ode to the Fellowship

This weeks blog was written by former PPI-CY Fellow, Ryan Hage. Ryan was an outstanding member of our family for over a year. After finishing his fellowship, Ryan accepted a position at his alma mater, Fordham University, where he currently works with their men’s basketball team. The following is his “ode” to the fellowship:

Ryan and PPI-CY participants preparing for tip-off at a Twinning event.

Looking back, it’s funny to me that when PeacePlayers offered me the fellowship, there was a moment of hesitation to accept. Little did I know that it would be one of the greatest things I would ever do.

Let’s put aside for a second that you get to live on a Mediterranean island or work with kids in the outskirts of Durban, South Africa. That you can get the best hummus in the world with some hummus experts in Jerusalem or explore a country that is famous for warm people in not so warm Northern Ireland.

Your job is to TEACH THE GAME OF BASKETBALL IN THE NAME OF PEACE. Does that even sound real? I look back at it now and think of it as almost too good to be true. I have to look at Facebook pictures and text old coaches to make sure it wasn’t just a dream. I know the role of an International Fellow is different from site to site, but the main responsibility is to share your knowledge of the game of basketball while making kids feel comfortable enough to build relationships in conflict areas. Sounds pretty amazing, right?

Ryan, Jale and Jessica at PPI-CY Summer Camp 2015

I received a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something I am extremely passionate about and share that with others, but I also got to do it while making a Cypriot family 7,000 miles away from home. The greatest part of my fellowship was going to help with practice in Iskele and then being invited for dinner every single week at Coach Sevki’s house; getting a coffee with Coach Koulendis to talk PeacePlayers strategy for hours after watching him work his magic at Faneromeni school; having a boss that is so supportive and helpful with anything issue or topic, from helping me with the annual budget to helping me cook a turkey for Thanksgiving. Jale Canlibalik is the greatest boss I will ever have.

Calling up PeacePlayers Coach Nicos Mashias to play pickup with International Fellow and great friend Jessica Walton on a random Tuesday night and then going out for a Mediterranean feast afterwards was a regular occurrence that I will miss forever. Asking PPI-CY Program Manager Stephanie Nicolas about political barriers to hosting an event and then calling her because I blew a tire again and need her help is a resource I will miss very much. But I know I have made a Cypriot family that I will have for life, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

While the details are different, I know the love, learning, and support to be the experience of each fellow at every site because I have had countless conversations with fellows from the other sites. After traveling to PeacePlayers-Middle East many times and seeing the impact a single fellow can have on a site and how much that site can have on a fellow, I knew it wasn’t only my experience. Now I have best friends like Heni Bizawi, Program Manager of PPI-ME, that I could ask for advice for our own programming and also someone who I count as a friend for life.

If you are thinking about applying to the fellowship but may not be sure how it will affect you with your career or if it will be everything you want it to be, then let me put your worries at ease. It will be the most transformational experience of your life. You are given the freedom to really make a difference and put your stamp on a program that is changing lives. Former fellows have gone on to work for the NBA, Nike, and attend Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.

“I want YOU for the fellowship”

It has been very sad to see my time with PeacePlayers end, but I will be forever grateful for being able to do something I love with such amazing people. To use PPI-ME Fellow and friend Jamie Walsh’s words, “how lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

So if you are thinking about applying or know some who should, APPLY NOW!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jwalton2015An Ode to the Fellowship
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