This weeks blog is written by PPI-NI fellow, and Harry Potter enthusiast, Andrew Daniels.
Before joining PeacePlayers, I was feeling a bit unsure about my choice to go into the peace and justice field. Many of my friends and some of my family didn’t seem to understand what I was trying to do. I even felt like some of my colleagues that were also studying peace, justice and conflict resolution were questioning what I was doing there too. I felt misunderstood, and I felt like I didn’t belong. It was a very isolating time of my life. I was starting to question myself. Did I make the right decision? Was I going down the right path? Why wasn’t I feeling inspired and confident? What is this all about!?!?!?!?
Towards the end of my peace and justice master’s degree I decided to commit to the idea of combining sport with peacebuilding. As a result, I applied for a fellowship with PeacePlayers and luckily, I was given the position. I felt like if there was any organisation that could give me what I was looking for, it was one that used basketball (one of my greatest passions) as a vehicle for peacebuilding.
Just last week, during one of our Twinnings, I saw two boys that were too shy to interact with the rest of their teams hide in the back of the hall. As they hid from the rest of the group they realized they weren’t alone because they were together. For the rest of the day these two boys, one Protestant and one Catholic, were inseparable. When the session was over and we had to leave, I saw them shake hands and hug before they left. I said to myself “This is what it’s all about!”
Two days ago, I received a phone call from a mother of one of my newest BIL (Belfast Interface League) participants. She explained to me that her daughter had a disability and has had trouble making friends and feeling part of a group for a long time. She then told me that her daughter came home after our basketball session and wouldn’t stop talking about how much fun she had and that she made so many new friends! It was yet another moment that I found myself saying “This is what it’s all about!”
Each day here at PeacePlayers I am humbled and reminded just how amazing the work we do is. Watching our participants blossom into agents for peace has been so very satisfying. In just one month I have come to know, without a doubt, that I didn’t make a mistake, and that no matter what people may think about my choices I know what I am doing is what I am supposed to be doing. If it wasn’t for this amazing opportunity with PeacePlayers, I am sure I would still be doubting my decision to go into the peace and justice field. Hopefully these experiences continue to guide me, humble me and enrich me as I move on with my fellowship!
As November winds down, PeacePlayers-NI is preparing for our next big event; Jingle Ball! On the 9th of December, we will be hosting a basketball tournament for our BIL participants. We will have approximately 150 kids representing each side of the city playing and learning together. Each team consists of multi-religious participants playing with each other and against other cross-community teams. It truly is the grand culmination of our interface programming, and I know without a doubt, I will be having another “This is what it’s all about moment!”