Friendship Beyond Borders: Building Personal Connections for a More Peaceful World

June 15, 2023

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PeacePlayers’ global network of young leaders is vast – spanning three continents, at least seven languages, boys and girls, and a wide range of ages, from new participants to seasoned alumni. It’s not always easy to bring everyone together, but it makes the chance for face to face encounters all that more special. Just ask Nathan and Julia, two Friendship Games alumni who were able to reconnect in person a few months after the Friendship Games. “I met up with Julia in New York and that was purely based off of [the in-person] Friendship Games. If we had had [just] a digital Friendship Games, that wouldn’t have happened because we just got so close in real life, in person,” says Nathan, a 19-year-old PeacePlayer from Durban, South Africa. 

 

Thanks to Ed and Penelope Peskowitz, the in-person Friendship Games took place this past summer (2022), and even now, several months later, we are still hearing and seeing the impact of those in-person games. 

“You spent [one] week with these people and you got to know them so deeply and so well and then you just kind of went your separate ways. But that didn't mean that it had to completely stop.”

Nathan

Indeed, Nathan didn’t let those connections stop; within a few days he was in the WhatsApp groups created by the Friendship Games Alums, and to the delight of his Brooklyn peers, let them know that he’d be in the United States for a work opportunity. “We were all happy that someone was actually coming to experience our life,” says Julia, 16, from PeacePlayers Brooklyn. Nathan’s visit meant she would get to act as a tour guide, sort of how they were guided

around Israel at the Friendship Games. Now it was Julia’s turn to show Nathan the parts of New York that they, the PeacePlayers of Brooklyn, experience. 

 

So what did their meetup entail? Well, the initial plan was to play basketball somewhere in Brooklyn, but it rained… so they did the next best thing – they went to Atlantic Mall! Here they reflected on their time at the Friendship Games and shared more about themselves and where they come from. The importance of this opportunity – to share Brooklyn with Nathan, and hear more about South Africa in an unstructured space, is not lost on Julia. She cites PeacePlayers’ core value of inside out transformation:

“[Global connections] brings the idea of how different we could see things, how new things that we didn't know before could actually be learned, and how we could accept learning new things… talking to other people and having different connections with other people that can really help with your mindset and make you view things differently.”

Julia

Julia notes how this inside out transformation, the learning she’s gained from Nathan and her global peers has contributed to how she sees herself as a leader. “[It’s] showed me how I can be a leader not just to my friends and family but for generations to come in my community.” 

 

Creating and maintaining personal connections that were forged at the Friendship Games is important, but why? Why focus on these global relationships? There is something deeper than just meeting up with a new friend. “We are a family; a second family for real. Like the values and the experiences that we had at PeacePlayers, they’ve really brought us together, like super tight. So if there’s ever a PeacePlayer that needs something from me, it’s going to be given to them because I know what kind of person they are. And I know that coming from PeacePlayers,” says Nathan.

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