This week’s blog was written by Cyprus Fellow Sean Wright
This past week I got to experience something that was truly life changing. PPI-Cyprus was host to an exchange trip with the other PPI sites, with kids coming from South Africa, the Middle East, Northern Ireland, and Norway, along with having our own Cypriot kids attending as well. The camp was held in the small village of Agros, located on the Greek Cypriot side of the island in the mountains.
To see these kids from different cultures who speak different languages while developing friendships that will last a lifetime was amazing to witness. Obviously, basketball was a huge component of the camp, because here at PeacePlayers International, if you can learn to play together than you can learn to live together. The camaraderie that I saw within each team was spectacular. Kids who I had known from my time here in Cyprus were breaking out of their shell and developing into remarkable young adults. I wasn’t just impressed with the kids. The coaches from each site were so amazing! I can honestly say that we have some of the best coaches in the world. The way they can get these kids from different nationalities to work as a team, all the while having fun is exactly the reason why PPI is so great. I learned so much from the coaches this past week that I know I am a better coach because of this.
Along with the basketball program going on, there were also classroom activities for leadership development.
Developing the next generation is not an easy task, but once again our coaches made it look easy. We also had the honor of having Dr. Chad Ford, a board member at the Washington DC office, be able to come to camp and lead multiple sessions on conflict resolution and peace building. Most importantly, these classroom sessions were not a lecture, rather they were interactive and made sure the kids were engaged.
On one of the days, we had the pleasure of having the Ambassador of the United States to Cyprus Ms. Kathleen Doherty join us and speak a few words to the kids. In talking to some of the campers after, especially the young women, they were thrilled to see a women in such a high power come and take the time out her busy schedule to meet with them. Of course, I had to represent the homeland by wearing my American flag bandanna all week, and on the day she arrived, wearing my American flag shorts. I’m pretty sure she appreciated it.
This was just the first of many exchange trips, where a certain group of leaders from each site will get to travel the world and visit these incredible countries and experience what life is like for others in the world. Without PeacePlayers, many of these kids would never have a chance to see the world and what it has to offer. This is one of my favorite aspects about PPI, that these kids who may not have a lot where they come from, get to make new friends, try new foods, and see what life is like all in places they would never have dreamed about if it wasn’t for PPI. One of the most heart warming things I saw this week was on the last day, when each site was leaving, the kids didn’t want to leave each other. They kept saying goodbye, and the bus kept having to wait and wait and wait. That was what this camp was all about. Seeing these friendships develop from saying hello to hugging each other and not wanting to let go makes it all worth it. I can’t wait for the next exchange trip!