International Play

Frisbee diplomacy

One of the articles in Play & Humor (IC#13)
Originally published in Spring 1986 on page 52
Copyright (c)1986, 1997 by Context Institute

Ron Kaufman and Robin Blanc have added a wonderful new twist to Citizen Diplomacy – play. On their 1985 trip to China, they demonstrated the joys of Frisbee and other non-competitive sports to about 10,000 Chinese in six major cities, and attracted lots of media attention in the U.S. – all spreading a message of goodwill through play. Encouraged by this success, they have six trips planned for May through October 1986, three to China and three to the Soviet Union. For more information, contact Robin Blanc or Ron Kaufman at World Peace Tours, P.O. Box 8910, La Jolla, CA 92038, (619)942-7181.

Play is an international language. Flying kites, playing ball, enjoying puppets, blowing soap bubbles, tossing Frisbees . . . all these activities can be done together without a common verbal language. Play transcends our need to talk to each other. We say it all with our eyes, our body language and our participation in the fun!

Can you imagine Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev tossing a Frisbee during a break in the Summit Talks? Do you think soap bubbles and helium balloons can make a difference in Soviet- American relations? How about beachballs, skateboards and yo-yos playing a special role in Chinese and American cultural exchange? Wait no longer play fans! Fun and games have hit the big time, and international diplomacy will never be the same!

In 1985 our group, World Peace Tours, took 25 Frisbee tossing, skate board riding, Hacky Sack kicking ambassadors of goodwill to the Peoples’ Republic of China. Ranging in age from 17 to 73 and coming from all over the United States, we spent whole days and afternoons playing noncompetitive games with children and their families. From Beijing to the Great Wall, it proved to be a great way to open doors, remove cultural and language barriers and reach out to make new friends. This year, we are going back to China and expanding to the Soviet Union.

Diplomatic exchanges between countries are common. Scientific, educational, cultural and even competitive sport exchanges happen every day. But recreational exchanges, people to people gatherings for the sake of pure fun . . . well, this is something new.

The world must be ready for this level of international exchange, because the support received by World Peace Tours is amazing! The media consistently features our tour groups of common Americans, reaching out with their hearts to create international goodwill. Companies in the United States donate hundreds of toys for each traveling group to bring on tour. These toys are used by Americans and their new friends, then donated to schools, families and summer camps overseas.

Playing with Frisbees in China and the Soviet Union may not seem important at first glance, but consider the powerful impact this simple gesture has for people overseas, and for the Americans on World Peace Tours. Playing together brings out the spontaneous child in us all. When adults allow themselves to open up and play, something beautiful happens. An opening is created. Laughter and smiles come forth. The worries of life disappear, past and future are replaced with the joy of the moment. Sharing this experience in a foreign country creates powerful and lasting impressions. Cultural perceptions fade away. Long held prejudice is replaced by friendship, compassion and understanding.

If you are a fun-loving person interested in an international adventure you will always remember, please call us. Let’s play together!