I hope you all enjoyed getting to know the South Africa crew over the past couple of weeks! I am sure you can all see the excitement shining through each and every one of us as we prepare for what could quite possibly be the trip of a lifetime for many of us! When we met last we Skyped with Tamarin, whom we will be working with once we get to South Africa. She talked to us a lot about what she does/how she is involved, and gave us some little pointers that we should know prior to our trip.
As she was educating us, she mentioned something that did not exactly shock me; but I wondered why it has to be like that. She mentioned that once we get there, because of our skin color, we will be looked at extremely differently and that it will take time for some of the kids to warm up to us simply because of that. I guess I was just a little bit confused because it’s not like there are no white South Africans there…there are many! It must be because of our funny accents! (to them at least!)
I am actually excited to see how the students react when they first see us! I honestly am just really anxious to see first hand what it is like to live in South Africa, nonetheless, in the community that we are going to be working in. We have been told that we will see things like drug deals and all sorts of things that we would probably never see in the US going on right in front of our faces. That may be a rude awakening for a lot of us if we, in fact, do see things like this.
Something else that threw me for a loop as she was speaking was when she told us that girls in the community don’t like soccer. That would be the reason that we are holding hip-hop dance classes for the girls and a soccer camp for the boys. I just cant quite wrap my head around the fact that girls don’t involve themselves in sports…that’s all that I did while I was growing up. I am sure that deep down, many girls want to start to play, but until the boys accept them it will not happen. Even in the US, I am sure it is safe to say that there are many men who look down upon women and feel as though they cannot play sports…but that doesn’t stop us! Men can feel however they want, but it should not affect the way others choose to live their lives. That being said, I hope that while we are in South Africa we are able to get some girls out on the field playing soccer with the boys. If we are able to do so then hopefully when we are gone, the girls will continue to play and more and more will want to join them!
Going into this, I did not know very much about South Africa. I knew where it was located (as that is pretty obvious) and I knew that there were white people. One of my teammates when I was a freshman and sophomore here at QU was from South Africa. Before getting to know her I was really curious to see what she was going to be like.
Would I be intimidated by her?
Would she have an accent?
Would she speak only another language?
What would her skin color be?
Was she going to judge me because I’m American?
The same types of questions would pop in my head even if she was not South African. She could have been Canadian and I still would have had the same curiosities. It turns out that yes, she had an accent, I was intimidated by her, and she was white. It still did not stop me from building a relationship with her though! I have played on teams with many foreign players and I have grown to love them all. Did they judge me at all when I first met them?…OF COURSE THEY DID! But once I got to know them better everything started to turn into a joke with them.
I can remember there was one day at practice where we were doing a full field scrimmage. Now typically, when we scrimmage, we line the sides of the field with balls so that we do not waste as much time hunting down a ball that went out of bounds. Well, for this scrimmage, our coach said that we were only able to play with one ball and that no balls were being put on the sidelines. Of course all of us gave a sigh but quickly shook it off and took our positions on the field. One player, in particular, was not too happy with this. I won’t name names, but I will tell you that she is from Italy. As soon as coach stated that we could only use one ball she made a face and said under her breath “Stupid Americans! Why?!” I was the only one to hear it and friendship wise, her and I were very close so I looked at her and just started laughing and she looked up and said “You heard me?! Ai Yai Yai” Even something as small as this shows how people from all around the world think of us. I am hoping that because I have been exposed to many ethnicity’s throughout my life that I will not be intimidated or nervous to meet new people in South Africa!
Keep your eyes open for more posts from this incredible group of young individuals!!