Chris Sumner, C'06
Peace Players International
Chris Sumner was known around the Mount for four years for his skills on the basketball court as a guard for the Mount’s varsity team. When he graduated, Chris knew he wouldn’t be content to put away his basketball shoes for good. In addition, he had interests in working with children, international travel and conflict resolution.
Lucky for Chris, he knew about an organization called Peace Players International. Founded by a family Chris knew in high school, the mission of Peace Players is simple: to use the game of basketball to unite and educate children and their communities. “When I found out the goal of Peace Players,” Chris says, “it was a perfect fit.”
The organization has programs in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Israel, the West Bank, Louisiana and Cyprus. His program in Cyprus focuses on “using basketball to facilitate positive dialogue and interaction between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot youth.” The ultimate goal, according to the Peace Players website, “is to improve relations between the Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus.” Chris, two other volunteers and 16 local coaches bring together children ages 9-14 to play basketball in an inclusive, fun environment.
Chris has been in Cyprus since February 2007, and already has had the experience of a lifetime. His commitment is through the end of the year, but he has been given the option to extend his contract to summer 2008. “I have learned so much about the conflicts and problems that exist all over the world,” Chris explains. “There is no substitute for what you can learn by immersing yourself in another culture.”
Attending the Mount played a big role in preparing Chris for the work he does. “The liberal arts curriculum gave me a chance to explore many avenues I never thought would interest me,” he says. He credits his excellent coaches and other mentors like Dr. Sue Goliber, Tara Horst and Dr. David McCarthy for helping expand his horizons and prepare him for his work with Peace Players.
Chris encourages current students or recent graduates who may be interested in full-time service work to “jump head first into it, because the time to do it is when you are fresh out of school and full of energy.”