For each individual, sport is a possible source for inner improvement.
Pierre de Coubertin
Sport has the power to change the world, it has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people.
Background: This is the beginning I hope of an ongoing dialogue about my research on sports and peacebuilding. I have the great honor of being selected as the H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Generations for Peace Graduate Scholar, and as such during the Conflict Resolution Master’s Program at Georgetown University, I will be exploring sports as a peacebuilding tool. As a life-long athlete, I look forward to combining my love of sports with my passion for international peace efforts.
Research: My studies begin in the library, in literature, in online research of organizations, theories and precedent, which I will continue to explore. However, I believe first-hand observation is paramount to this research. Therefore, I have started my exploration of DC-based groups that use sports to provide conflict resolution skills to youth. To begin with, I am taking a look at a comparative group that focuses on dance and conflict mediation. The argument of whether or not dance is a sport is ongoing and possibly irrelevant, but it is often overlooked as a method of peacebuilding and a viable alternative to more combative sports.
Current Project: Dance 4 Peace is a quickly expanding organization that was first implemented in war-ravaged Colombia and is now starting its pilot year in Washington, DC and New York City. With no dance background of my own, I will be attempting to observe, without bias, how the curriculum based on self-expression through movement will be implemented in inter-city schools. After sitting in on the first facilitators training session, I was surprised at a) my complete lack of dance skills, and b) the strength of the curriculum in addressing the root causes of interpersonal conflict. Next step will be observing how the youth dancers interact with the curriculum over the course of the semester.
Brainstorming questions: Even though it lacks the “star power” factor of sports like football (soccer) or basketball, can dance be more effective at delivering a peacebuilding curriculum? Is the curriculum of a program more important than the sport/dance that it is attached to? Is aggression in sports actually a necessary evil (thinking of Freud’s channeling of emotion) that dance will fail to provide?