From PeacePlayers Young Leader to "Highlander" Leader

Catching up with Andriana Kasapi, former participant of peaceplayers cyprus

November 15, 2021

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In celebration of PeacePlayers’ 20th Anniversary, we have had the pleasure of catching up with several “former” PeacePlayers. We have learned where their lives have taken them since their time with PeacePlayers, and how they’ve taken PeacePlayers into their careers, professional lives, interests and hobbies as they’ve moved through the world. 

Q: Where do you currently live?

Studying in Mesa, Arizona. It’s about 15 miles east of Phoenix.

Q: What was your role at PeacePlayers Cyprus and how long were you involved?

I first started out as a participant. When I graduated from the program I transitioned into coaching. I've been involved since 2012!

Q: What’s been going on in your life since PeacePlayers?

After I graduated from high school, I came to the U.S. to study at UC Riverside. They provided me with a scholarship and the opportunity to play basketball at the U.S. collegiate level. This past July I transferred to Benedictine University to finish my studies while playing basketball.

November 15 Andrianna Slide 2

Q: What is your current profession, or hobbies?

I am a full time student-athlete.

Q: How have you brought PeacePlayers into your current profession and professional life?

After I graduated high school in 2018, I came to the U.S. to study and play basketball. I began school as an undeclared major, meaning a student has not yet declared an actual major, wanting to keep my options open before deciding what to study. In the middle of my sophomore year, I declared my major to Political Science and International Affairs, a field which studies how countries interact with each other, and how local politics, culture, and economics impact the international community. The work that is done in PeacePlayers was something that inspired me to declare this major, and in addition to that, it was a concept I was already familiar with since one of the things we learn in PeacePlayers is conflict resolution.

Q: Do you have an example of when you’ve used the tools/skills PeacePlayers equipped you with to address personal/professional conflict or inequity?

Last year, I had the opportunity to work a part-time job on campus as the Athletics Liaison for the CARE office. CARE (Campus, Advocacy, Resources, and Education) is an intervention and prevention support program committed to ending sexual violence at UC Riverside. My main role was to promote healthy relationships, consent, bystander intervention, support resources and other related topics in collaboration with the athletics community through programs, workshops, campaigns, etc. I remember reading some of the skills that were required for the position like “strong leadership skills” and “the ability to work as a team and foster positive collaboration” and I was thinking that that wouldn’t be a problem since those were some of the skills that I developed through PeacePlayers. I worked for the CARE office for around one year, and one of the biggest challenges that I encountered was engaging in difficult conversations about very sensitive topics. I would have my weekly one-on-ones with my supervisor or our weekly team meetings, and we would discuss our projects and often that would lead to uncomfortable conversations. However, my experience with PeacePlayers really helped me in this aspect of my work. We often talked about the conflict between our communities, for example how our peers viewed the people from the ‘other side’ and their comments were upsetting to hear, but necessary if we wanted change. Difficult conversations with PeacePlayers peers really helped me in understanding that the uncomfortable conversations I engaged in during my time with CARE were necessary for development and thus change.

Q: What is your favorite peaceplayers story?

Even though it’s impossible to choose, I have to say that the exchange trips to Northern Ireland (2017) and the Middle East (2016) are two of the most memorable experiences. We got to visit Jerusalem and the Dead Sea in Israel and the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, ate amazing food, and had so much fun playing basketball and learning Gaelic football. Most importantly, however, we got to meet our fellow PeacePlayers from the other sites. We learned about the conflict that exists in their respective communities; we shared our stories, and got into difficult conversations. Every workshop that we attended taught us something different, from accountability and SMART [Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound] goals to the Pyramid of Change and the Behavioral Change Stairway Model, skills and knowledge that really helped me in my personal and professional career so far. During the exchange trips we got to develop life-long friendships with amazing people we would never have the opportunity to meet if it wasn’t for PeacePlayers. Another great experience was meeting John Kerry, former United States Secretary of State, in Cyprus in 2016. We shook his hand and shot some hoops with him. It was freezing, but it was still an unforgettable experience.

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