Friday, March 23, 2012

Why is this important to me?

These three children, Awet, Meseret and Juan Carlos are why this is important to me. All three from different countries, all three love learning and LOVE soccer. I met the three of them last year while I was working at The Secondary Orientation Bilingual Center (SBOC) in Seattle, WA.

SBOC is a transition school, meaning that many of the children may only spend a semester there to learn just enough English to move onto a Seattle Public School. There is a huge emphasis to learn English, especially in the classroom. I believe that every person learns differently so by providing different environments will give every child an opportunity to open up, share their thoughts and learn.

At SBOC there are youth ages 9-21 and there is one soccer team, the catch is you have to be a boy and you have to be in high school. Day in day, day out all the middle school girls and boys would watch the high school boys play, begging them to pass the ball. I grew up playing soccer and never lacked the opportunity to be able to enjoy the fun of the game, so I was determined to give these young girls and boys an opportunity to play. With collaboration with the community I was able to get soccer gear (cleats, shirts, shorts) for the kids and we were able to have a chance to play twice a week through the whole school year.

Soccer Without Borders Nicaragua is just that, it gives girls a chance to play a game that is typically a boys sport in their community. More importantly, sports can be used as a platform to create friendships which builds trust. By the second semester, I had close relationships with Awet, Meseret and Juan Carlos who were all a part of the soccer program and were the first students to join a creative writing class taught by Bryan Lindgren and myself. It is a blessing to know these children. Awet, Meseret and Juan Carlos hold a special place in my heart because I learned from them---they have been through so much but still have huge smiles, lots of spirit and big hearts. I anticipate that my year with Soccer Without Borders will be special merely for the time I will be spending with the girls playing, sharing and learning.

Find out more about SBOC, they always need volunteers!