In this week’s blog, Monique Lewis, PP – ME’s International Fellow, shares some of her impressions following her first month in Israel, so many of them having to do with communicating in a new country.
I can hardly believe it has been less than 30 days since I arrived in Israel. As the new American Fellow at PPI- Middle East, I knew I would have the chance to engage with program participants, staff, and many other people in a new country, and was very aware that cross- cultural communication, including “language barriers”, would be a challenge. But I was confident that my ability to speak basketball fluently would allow me to fit right in, and it has! I have been taking time to absorb the culture, observe, and of course learn a few words in Hebrew and Arabic. I’ve learned to respond emphatically: “Yoffi”- when it’s all so beautiful, and “Yalla”- let’s go!
Twinnings were an important part of the powerful programming that took place this month and are all about communication; here are some of my impressions:
Twinning #1 – Theme: Introduction/Touching. During one activity my team came up with the name “Balling Together”. When we started, the girls were quiet and shy. Then, suddenly, they became super competitive; cheering and encouraging each other to complete every race. I believe they motivated each other because we had won quite a few of the competitions (and probably because of some great coaching there too!)
Twinning #2 – Theme: Communication/Listening. In this twinning I was able to assist staff members Courtney Douglass and Githa Cohen, who manage our Middle East North locations. This was an awesome experience: it was nighttime, we played in a covered, outdoor court, and the boys were a lot of fun and very energetic. This was also my first experience playing the “Head, Shoulders, Knees, Basketball” game.
Twinning #3 – Theme: Introduction/Touching. Complete with mixed team relays, the boys at this event learned each other’s names and did drills that required them to work as one unit.
Big Friday Twinning #4 – Theme: Teamwork. With four different schools/teams in attendance, this event was an awesome activity in which participants worked together, and demonstrated amazing teamsmanship and sportsmanship.
Twinning #5 Theme: Communication/Listening. Because this event took place during the first week of February, I was reminded of National Girls and Women in Sports Day which we celebrate in the U.S. Sport is universal, and the girls who played “Head, Shoulders, Knees, Basketball” this day were lively and spirited. See for yourself here on Staff/LDP Participate.
After just seven days of being in the Holy Land, I also experienced my first All- Star Team Retreat at S’dot Yam, a beach retreat site in Caesarea. The theme was Getting to Know You, and the Jerusalem teams that attended were very skilled on the court and had lots of fun together! Off the court, I talked with many of the players and staff about past experiences, things we like to do during downtime, and family history. All of this helped us understand each other so much better.
With every high five, dribble, or pass, PeacePlayers International truly is “bridging gaps, developing leaders, and changing perceptions” – Yoffi!