This week’s blog was written by Cyprus Fellow Sean Wright about his recent experience involved with the Norway exchange trip.
You can measure what an experience means to someone by the amount of time it takes to say goodbye to their friends. In Norway, as we all said goodbye to our old and new friends, that took about 3 hours. It didn’t matter if you had already given a hug to someone before, they needed another one (or 8). In just one week, everlasting friendships were made spanning across the world. That is the beauty of working for such an extraordinary organization in PeacePlayers International. You get to witness first hand how kids from very different cultures, speaking different languages, can become so close in just a short period of time. The bonds that are made in these exchanges can never be broken, rather they can only be enhanced.
It wasn’t just the participants who had an amazing time. To me, this was one of the greatest trips I’ve ever been on. It didn’t feel like work. I was learning just as much from these young leaders as they were learning from the coaching staff. I learned what these kids are passionate about, that friendships have no borders, and that you can always start a dance party no matter where you are. Also, I learned that if you are honest with them about how you hurt your back playing UNO (yes, the card game), they will never let you hear the end of it.
There are so many memories from this trip that I will never forget. We got to go dogsledding on a frozen lake, take a tour of Parliament, and go to the Nobel Peace Center. Those were all truly amazing experiences, but there is one moment that I hold above all. On the last day, in the midst of saying goodbyes, one of those dance parties I told you about started up. At the end of it, the last song that was played was Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill”. Everyone put their arms around each other and formed a circle, and we just belted out the words. Looking around and seeing only smiles from ear to ear, I couldn’t help but think to myself how meaningful this moment is in my life. To be with all these incredible people, having the times of our lives, together – there was no greater feeling.
Thank you for all those who made this trip possible and made it an experience that I will never forget. Northern Ireland is next up, and it can’t get here fast enough. To quote our good friend Ed and the theme song from camp “I’m on my way!”(Technically not for a few months, but I’m still on my way!!!)