PeacePlayers International: Bringing People Together

PeacePlayers International (PPI) is a non-profit organization that brings children from communities in conflict together to play basketball. Its mission statement is “To unite, educate and inspire young people in divided communities through basketball.”

PPI was founded in 2001 on the premise that “children who play together can learn to live together.” It has trained more than 1,100 youth leaders and reached more than 65,000 participants. Using basketball, PeacePlayers International brings children together and teaches them proven tactics for improving their communities. PPI’s operating budget is over three million dollars, and it currently operates year round programs in South Africa, Northern Ireland, Israel and the West Bank, and Cyprus.

Participants of PeacePlayers international in the Middle East, both Jewish and Arab, visited St. Luke’s School on Thursday, October 16 and attended a few classes to talk among several students. Grace O’Halloran, a junior at St. Luke’s, talked with some of the PPI participants during lunch: “they talked about how they came from different places and backgrounds but were still all friends with each other. They also talked about their experiences since coming over to the United, such as playing basketball in the White House and seeing Wicked on Broadway.”

The PPI participants went to a few SLS classes, and one thing that some of our students learned was that all of the Jewish PPI participants will have to participate in the army following their high school graduation. Most of the males would become combat soldiers while most females would work at checkpoint stations at borders. The most unbelievable part, however, is the fact that they would be joining the army and fighting against possible PPI Arab teammates. One question this leads to is how a past Jewish PPI participant would react to seeing an Arab friend, who they used to play basketball with, during combat or at a checkpoint?

When the PPI participants talked among a senior class, they made a comment mentioning how stressed SLS students must be in having to worry about applying to college. While many of the SLS seniors are likely very stressed and anxious about college applications, they didn’t feel comfortable complaining about their tribulations in front of the PPI delegation, as they will be going to have to participate in their nation’s army after their graduation instead of advancing their education. Clearly, there is a large cultural divide between our high school students and the high school students in Israel, and the PPI delegation helped open our eyes to the glaring conflict in the Middle East, and how the organization strives to find a way to settle it through sports.

Jamie Rich, Sports Editor

Posted by on October 21, 2014. Filed under School News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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