Once a month, one of the PeacePlayers sites of Cyprus, the Middle East, Northern Ireland, South Africa and the United States hosts youth, alumni and coaches from around the world in what are known as the Virtual Friendship Games, generously supported by Ed and Penelope Peskowitz. These virtual sessions can include team building and cultural learning activities that serve to unite our youth and give them the feeling that they are part of something greater — a global movement.
In previous months, the themes have focused on our core value of ‘seeing people as people’ with young leaders working together on the four teams: Truth, Justice, Peace and Mercy. However, May’s focus would be on something slightly different, PeacePlayers core value of a culture of collaboration. PeacePlayers believes that our most effective and inclusive efforts are done when teams and individuals are collaborating for a common, shared goal. What better way for the 50 young leaders in attendance to have a shared collaborative experience than a virtual escape room, led by The Escape Game. The 50 young leaders in attendance were divided into ten new teams with brand new teammates.
LaToya Fisher, Director of PeacePlayers Baltimore reflects on the room she was placed in,“The participants in my room worked really well together and everyone took the time to listen to each other’s ideas and give them a try. The team work began right away and once people got the hang of how the clues work, we sailed through a lot of the clues. It was really fun to watch them assist each other in finding answers so we could move forward to the next step.”
Even where some participants were quieter than others, participants were invited to engage and given space to give their thoughts. In one room, Sevilay, an alumni and assistant coach from PeacePlayers Cyprus, specifically worked to engage quieter participants: a true act of inclusion and collaboration.
When asked what it was like collaborating with people from around the world, room five lead Jayden, from PeacePlayers Northern Ireland, exclaimed, “We all had different strengths, different weaknesses, and could help each other through the problem.” With their collaboration on full display, tackling one challenge after another, a representative from the company shared aloud, “That was the fastest I’ve ever seen a team solve this one”. The final result? Jayden and team five were able to complete the challenge in forty-five minutes. Room five attributes their success to their constant communication and attention to small details. Rochelle Coleman, Director of PeacePlayers Programs, believes it had to do with the group’s eclectic backgrounds, given the room was full of PeacePlayers from around the world and who leveraged their various interests. Participants who were interested in science, including Emily who could spot a building from Oxford immediately, contributed to strong knowledge, and teamwork in the room.
Though collaboration can have its challenges, PeacePlayers believes that our most effective and inclusive efforts are done when teams and individuals are collaborating for a common, shared goal. And as PeacePlayers continues to build a global peace and equity movement, these young leaders are showing the power of that shared goal.
As the event drew to a close all the young people cheered each other on and said their goodbyes. A culture of collaboration was put to the test virtually and globally, and our PeacePlayers truly rose to the challenge!