Monday, January 25, 2010

ATH: World Scholar-Athlete Games

i have written before about my wonderful experience at the World Scholar-Athlete Games, where i coached in 1993, and with National Sportsmanship Day which my soccer teams promoted . . . well, the next installment is about to come to fruition . . .

Huge Global Reaction to

2011 World Youth Peace Summit and

World Scholar-Athlete Games

On a global scale, The Institute for International Sport is receiving an overwhelming number of emails, letters and calls regarding the 2011 World Youth Peace Summit and World Scholar-Athlete Games.

Key Dates

  • February 13, 2010: The World Youth Peace Summit will be recognized at a half-time ceremony of the nationally televised UConn-Cincinnati Men's Basketball game at the XL Center in Hartford, CT.
  • March 1, 2010: Applications for participation in the 2011 World Scholar-Athlete Games will be made available on the Institute website, Applicants ages 15-19 as of June 1, 2011 are eligible to apply.
  • April 2010: The Institute for International Sport will host the inaugural Connecticut Peace Lecture at the Gampel Pavilion on the campus of the University of Connecticut. The major speaker will be announced on or about March 1.
  • April 15, 2010: Applications for participation in the 2011 World Youth Peace Summit will be made available on the Institute website and World Youth Peace Summit website,
  • May 15, 2010: Applications for participation in the World Youth Peace Summit and/or World Scholar-Athlete Games as a volunteer or coach will be posted on both websites.
  • Other major events scheduled for 2010 will include the World Youth Peace Summit honors dinner at the Mohegan Sun on October 22, 2010.
  • The Institute is also planning a major 25th anniversary dinner, scheduled for April 2011 in Rhode Island, and featuring an internationally renowned speaker.

Interested in the WYPS/WSAG?

Simply Email us at We will be sure to keep you posted on developments.

Linking our Past with our Future

A wonderful Boston Globe Photo Journal, which appeared following the 2006 World Scholar-Athlete Games, provides an important link between our past and our future work in world peace.

Peace on Display

Differences put aside when students gather for Games

By Stan Grossfeld

Boston Globe, July 4, 2006

South Kingston, R.I. - On a soft summer day when representatives from around the world gathered in the tiniest state, a beautiful thing happened. The Iraqi coach embraced an Israeli student-soldier at the 2006 World Scholar-Athlete Games.

"I was very impressed by him," Tair Kowalsky, a 20-year old Israeli college student, said of Basel Al Harbi. "We took a picture and we hugged.

"Peace on earth," she said smiling.

Over the course of a week, 1,900 students from 157 countries and all 50 states came together to live, play, and learn from one another on the campus of the University of Rhode Island in a program sponsored by the nonprofit Institute for International Sport, which is based at the University.

On June 26, at World Peace and Non-Violence Day, former president Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker. The Jumbo-tron flashed the famous photo of a teenage Clinton meeting President John F. Kennedy at the White House. Clinton told today's teenagers that diversity is a good thing. "You're having more fun today than if you all looked alike and thought alike, and you're going to learn a lot more than if you all looked alike and thought alike," he said, followed by an ovation.

The Globe talked to athletes from countries that have undergone conflict to see how sports can heal the wounds of war.

Gareth Brown, 18 Northern Ireland: "I've always been an outgoing person, but this has got me more outgoing. I was at something like this in Belfast but it was smaller. When I came here and saw 2,000 people, I went, 'Gee, this is good.'

"I'm Catholic. Where I come from Protestants and Catholics, there's the troubles. But I go to an integrated school and I don't really care about that. Two weeks ago I found I had a friend who was a Protestant. I thought he was a Catholic.

"If you love the game of sport, you don't really care about religion. The whole point is to get along with everybody. So it's not worth coming here if you're thinking, 'I hope I don't get no Protestant 'cause I'm going to wale him.' Sport brings a lot of people together. It brings sense into their heads about what religion you are. The point is, just get along."

Surekha Rodrigo, 14 Sri Lanka:
"When I was born, the war was going on. I've never known anything different. I've lived in a country that's been in a state of uncertainty for 20 years now and I don't know anything different from that. The peace treaty signed in 2001 is not being followed. The LTTE (Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam) wants a separate country, so there's still bombings and land mines. I don't hate people in my country. I think we should live together because in my country there's many adversaries and a union is the best thing. It's still an uncertain state.

"I don't know if it will directly help my country but bringing students from around the world like this will allow more cultural and political understanding of what's going on in the world. It will help over time.

"Sports is a good way for release, a way for people to get their energy out. I don't think sports is too emphasized here. I think everyone should be enrolled in it. When I'm swimming, I don't think about anything else.

Peter Malual, 19 Sudan:
"I have been playing sports for as long as I can remember. When I didn't have a job, I'd just play to keep me happy.

"During my journey every day was a worse day, but you just go to make it out there. I lost a lot of friends, a lot of them. I walked hundreds of miles. I brought nothing. I came to the United States they gave me shoes to get in the plane. I flew out of Kenya.

"Right now I'm in Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College. Playing with people from different countries motivates me. Maybe by playing with them they can understand me and then from there on we can grow. I know some people from Chile and from Ghana, in Africa, and that's how the unity starts. We start talking about it on the field and then carry it on out. It won't hurt trying."

Rawi Awayed, 17 Nazareth, Israel: "I am enjoying the games and having a great time. I'm studying photography. All the people I met from the USA, they are nice people. Before I arrived I was afraid because I am an Arab, but the participants here don't have a problem if I was Arab or Jew or Muslim. The Israelis we came with are very nice. At first when we met on the plane we weren't so friendly, but now we're so good. I like them, I have fun with them. I don't know them in Israel, so I can't judge them as bad soldiers.

"I got into a Cisco computer program set up by a Jewish man. Now I am friends with them and send them e-mails. I discovered that the Jews want to have peace, especially in Israel so they can be comfortable in their personal life. Jews are wonderful and supportive so I know now that Jews are not bad.

"Two years ago there was a soccer program between Arabs and Jews. I participated in that, and we became friends with the Jews. But when you're off the field, their political opinions sometimes annoy you. I try to be optimistic about the future. You know, for sure, if we put aside our religious stuff and political stuff, it will be a better environment to live in."

Tair Kowalsky, 20 Tel Aviv, Israel: "I don't meet terror every day. I don't go in the street and someone shoots at me. I'm going to parties and the beach, and the military. The life is so different there. This is a chance to explain my country. You will enjoy it. There's nothing bad there. There is terror, but you can go through it.

"What can I tell you? It's always in the back of my head.

"One of the things I can take back with me is that you can treat people as individuals and not judge them by their culture or territory. Like two kids who come from Nazareth. I don't know Arab kids. I don't get a chance to meet them. I don't have any contact with them. But I met those two and she's a really sweet girl and he's a bright guy. They wouldn't harm a fly. So you need to judge people individually and you can open your mind to things like this. Sports and arts are the basis of peace."

Rose Albert, 15 Haiti: "These games are about friendship. I meet other people and learn about other cultures. We're here as a group to learn together. I'm going to try. I don't think I can do it by myself, everybody has to do a part.

"In Haiti, when people are burning houses, when they are mad about something, they don't talk. We don't really have the freedom to speak, so they burn something. I don't think it's good.

"Sports can bring peace because a lot of people love sports."

Senia Abderahman, 18 Western Sahara: "It's a very special experience. Every second person you talk to is from a different country. Western Sahara is in northwest Africa, it's occupied by Morocco. (But) I've never been to Western Sahara. I was born in the refugee camps in Algeria and I live in a refugee camp in Algeria. My parents were fleeing the Moroccans in '75. I don't hate the Moroccans. The classic answer is this is not people's problem. It's more a political and governmental problem. I haven't met the person here from Morocco yet. Hopefully I'm not going to say, 'You are my enemy.' Of course not.

"Whenever I spoke to someone, they never heard of Western Sahara. Therefore they will become more and more aware. They are the future leaders, they can affect their governments in the future. They can be very important people and therefore find solutions to these problems.

"I've never been on any volleyball team. I'm much better in running long distance. Here, it's about trying to understand each other, not as much about winning or losing."

Former President Bill Clinton, Keynote Speaker: "I kind of wish this program was available when I was your age. I might have been a better athlete, and later avoided heart surgery for all I know. If only I'd had the chance.

"Our differences do matter. Some of us are blacks, some white, some brown or some other pigment. Some of us are Christian, some Muslim, some Jews, some Buddhist, some Confuciusists. Some of us are liberals, some conservatives. These differences are good. First of all, they make life more interesting. Our differences aid the search for truth. Because since none of us knows everything, it's only by listening to people with different perspectives, arguing, discussing, cheering while we go, that we ever make any progress. So our differences matter but our common humanity matters more. That's the only thing you have to believe to bring the world together.

"And all these wars, amid all this killing and all these people dying in every country. They're all dying because the people that killed them believe our differences are more important than our common humanity, that our differences define our humanity.

"You are the first to come of age in a time of global interdependence. You can't get away from one another, but you can hold hands and make sure that your children and your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren will also have a chance to live their dreams.

"If you engage in athletics, every time you compete you know you might lose. If you were paralyzed by that, you'd never compete. And if you never win a championship, you're better off for having competed. You're healthier, you're stronger, you understand teamwork. You understand discipline. Your mind works better. The act, the effort enhances the quality of your life. Everything else is like that, too. I'm 60 years old, almost. I go back to all my high school reunions, the saddest people are those that never tried to live their dreams.

"So, my advice is to try."

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At 5:24 AM, Anonymous Janice said...

I don't think sports is too emphasized here. I think everyone should be enrolled in it.


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