Today’s blog is written by PPI-DC program coordinator Rochelle Coleman. Rochelle reflects on the recent JUMP basketball tournament in Turkey.
In today’s society our differences are often highlighted: religion, nationality, race, gender, class, language; the list goes on and on. What makes PeacePlayers great is that despite these perceived differences we are all the same, and we try to see people as people. PeacePlayers was recently presented the opportunity to go to Turkey to work a basketball camp with community relations training, work with campers and coaches from all over Turkey as well as campers and coaches from Syria. Then, to really ratchet up the diversity meter, the PPI coaches were from three different sites: the DC office in the United States (myself), Debbie from Northern Ireland and Sifiso from South Africa. Add in the two Texans (USA) Chris and Joey from the Basketball Embassy and you have a very interesting bunch.
If this were a reality tv show, the commentator would scream, “How will they get along? How is this possible?!” And with that, the 100 members who made up the campers and coaches would look at the camera and say, “It’s simple, we are all the same.”
Even with three different languages filling the air (Arabic, English, & Turkish) communication flowed, and campers helped each other and learned each other’s language. People took the time to understand each other and sometimes there was some tension, but since we cared about understanding, everything worked out. Basketball is a universal language but even more than that a smile, a high five, a thumbs up always translates. Sitting down with someone new for a meal or just hanging out a talking with one another (even if it looks like a game of charades because of the language difference) alway goes a long way and is a wonderful time.
Often our differences are emphasized but at the end of the day everyone wants a safe space where they are free to laugh, dance, communicate, learn, grow and just be themselves. It’s funny when that space is provided just like it was at the JUMP basketball camp in Turkey how people forget their differences and joy permeates.