Two years ago, I and two other Champions4Peace (C4P), Hannah and Maud, travelled to Cyprus to be part of the first leg of the Lead4Peace exchange. This exchange sought to develop our potential to become leaders in our own communities and equipped us with the skills we would need to be leaders in our daily lives whether that be in Cyprus, the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Norway or South Africa.
Sophie, Maud and Hannah
Mentors being mentors
Fast-forward two years later and here I am, reuniting with Hannah and Maud at the bus stop on Glengall Street, Belfast – we have since graduated through the C4P programme. Despite going to the same camp, in the same location with the same levels of excitement, this trip was unique because we made our return to the PeacePlayers Cyprus camp as mentors with a new group of participants and different coaching staff.
There was a notable difference in the amount of responsibility we had as mentors; one particular difference was Maud’s ability to stay away from the hospital on this trip! All joking aside, I’m glad Maud made it home in one piece.
We had warned the participants and coaches of the treacherous road to Rodon Hotel, Agros. However, we could never have predicted what would really happen. Some of the journey’s main characteristics are as follows; the language
barrier between us and the bus driver, the shattered tyre, the fact that we continued to drive with mentioned shattered tyre, Leif throwing his hands up in the air insisting that “This is what travelling is all about!” while he snapped a photo of our worry stricken faces, the snail speed we travelled at and lastly, the big bad mountains that coaxed tears from Hannah, Maud and I.
For anyone who has experienced a PeacePlayers exchange, there is a constant buzz of energy that gets you through what can be a long but extremely worthwhile week. Below are some of my personal highlights:
On our first day at camp, the mentors had a classroom session with three empowering women from UNFYCIP Cyprus. This was an open discussion and focused on gender roles. Listening to my peers, both male and female debate the importance of equality and the necessity of education for girls was heart-warming.
Mentors being mentors
Later that day, a group of refugees from UNHCR joined us to celebrate World Refugee Day. We participated in fun team bonding stations that focused on communication, teamwork, basketball skills and trust.
Coach Joe took the mentors under his wings in order to equip us with the confidence and materials to deliver our own sessions to the participants. We brainstormed how would lead successful basketball and classroom sessions. In our mentor teams, we then planned the sessions, deciding what themes and skills we wanted to focus on and what goals we wanted to achieve when delivering those sessions to the participants. Some themes we brainstormed were; cultural diversity, respect, stereotypes, leadership, communication, teamwork and self-awareness.
As I reflect on what was another unforgettable camp hosted by PeacePlayers International-Cyprus, I am faced with the same feeling of déjà vu in saying goodbye to the people, the atmosphere and the place but thankfully not the memories. I’m thankful to have reunited with some of my closest friends from Cyprus and the Middle East. I’m thankful to the new friendships that blossomed this week. And, I’m yet again thankful to be part of an organisation that has helped grow these strong friendships in a bid to prove to the world that, children who can play together really can live together.