Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Update

It's midnight here and we just put together a quick little two minute video and put some pictures together. Coach did most of the movie, I just added some finishing touches. Below is an blog that Josh, who turns out is a very talented writer, wrote about Monday. Feel free to "comment" at the end of each entry to let us know what you think or would like to see. Thanks for looking....

I’m on my hotel porch looking out at the Cape Town Skyline, where the skyscraper lights shine brightly, but do not overshadow the centered moon and it’s neighboring stars. I think of my black and white bracelet that represents the good and bad in life, which completes life, and today was the true epitome of life to its greatest degree.

We woke too early to function for what we had planned; yet we learned that adrenaline is quite a powerful self-stimulating drug. After breakfast we boarded the bus wearing running shoes for a light jog and stretch on the Waterfront by the beach. The exercise jumpstarted us. Back on the bus, we circumnavigated the tourist attractions in downtown Cape Town, viewing them from the inside of the bus. Our guides briefly showed us around the Castle, which is the oldest and first architectural structure in Cape Town. The history behind the building very much coincided with that of South Africa, thus priming our knowledge of this magnificent place. Our stomach’s called to us for food, but that adrenaline again kicked in when our ears began to pop while riding a Gondola to the top of Table Mountain. Several thousand feet high, I looked down upon the Atlantic Ocean to the right, the Indian Ocean to the left, and multi-shaped valleys, crevices, and mountainsides made up of granite boulders intermingled with 40 foot-plus sized trees and dominant patches of tall green grass. Taking pictures was even a difficult task because no focus was justifiable to the greatness of what I was discovering. Again, please look to Charlie’s pictures. This was most certainly one of the three greatest events of the day.

I ate, took the gondola back to lower grounds, and the Fummers headed for Khayelitsha for our first and highly anticipated, both fearful and excited of our expectations. First I must explain that Khayelitsha is a shanti town made up of millions of families, poisoned by HIV/AIDS virus, living in a space not nearly half the size of New York City, without the high-rises. Extreme poverty here is the standard, and bad enough to make the town establish its own micro economy. The trip to the Khayelitsha was dense with depressing imagery of homes constructed of tin and/or wood that had limited electricity, running water, and plumbing. On top of that, each home had no property outside of the actual perimeter of the home itself, meaning no back or front yards, just dirt roads filled with scattered rocks, massacred pieces of pavement, and barb-wired gates. Our driver made a right hand turn onto the road where the school and field was located, the venue where we held our camp in allegiance with Grassroots Soccer and Soccer for Hope to promote HIV/AIDS awareness through the trust and love established upon the roots of soccer. Hundreds of eight to fourteen-year-old black African students surrounded our bus, waving, chanting, smiling, and dancing, while even more awaited us inside of the gated school property on the crummy grass fields. I was terrified, no doubt, especially after seeing a city of depreciated homes and people. I will even go as far to say that everyone on the bus was feeling the same way as I was. The bus stopped. I was the last to get off. My foot touched the soil with trembling interior fear and claimed an awkward smile. Both feet rested and immediately, children were giving me high-fives, pounds, and special hands shakes, blowing kisses in my direction. Weaving my way through a 30 yard crowd of what seemed like a red carpet runway, I reached the gates of the schoolyard, smiled with relief, and any fear I may have had, vanished, completely! A boy named, Vianni, grabbed my hand, dragged me to the center of his group of friends where I was giving hand-shakes and pounds, my head spinning in all directions, and traditional African names being thrown at me. I restated every child’s name once it was pronounced to me. When I said it correctly, they smiled and hugged me. I left Vianni and ventured to different groups of boys. They saw my long hair and asked me if I play like Ronaldinho, when I of course said no, but pointed them in the direction of Giuseppe Bua. It seemed as if each F&M soccer player wearing a fluorescent yellow Grassroots Soccer shirt was surrounded by an average of 10 to 15 kids, who bombarded by hand shakes.

Vianni found me in a crowd, held my hand, and sang to me traditional African songs. I danced with him, applauded, and followed him in the afternoon activities. Some of the activities consisted of small soccer drills or games, and while soccer was out of the picture, Soccer for Hope Instructors organized circles of children, in which we danced and sang, always clapping and moving our hips. An instructor named, VuVu taught me some dance moves, laughed at us, and admitted to me that Lane Bodian and I are “funny dancers.” (We have no rhythm.) I spent almost the entire time with this eleven-year-old boy Vianni, who followed me like a celebrity, and I followed him like a son. When it was the end the session, all participants gathered in a great herd of over 400 people jumping, chanting, singing, and dancing, whites, blacks, men, women, and children of all ages. Mr. Corday whispered to me in my ear that we would be leaving in 2 minutes, and a sullen feeling struck my eyes, literally my tear glands. I began to tear but held myself together. I sang louder, and then yellow shirts faded away from the circle. I told Vianni I had to go and he got choked up, jumped on me, hugged me, and said to me, “I am gooin’ tou miss you very much.” I responded without a thought in my mind, “I am going to miss you too, buddy.” He waved goodbye and began clapping and singing again. I pulled my head away, looking oppositely from the herd of people, I choked up fully, truly, and a tear fell from my eyes, I swear to God, and I was never expecting this.

The soccer team walked backwards towards our bus because all of the students stopped cheering once they saw us leave, and ran towards us, all 400. Unbelievable. From the bus Vianni and I waved to each other and parted, running after the bus all the way down the dusty street.

Now it was game time against Ajax Cape Town, the youth reserves of a South African professional side that is a feeder club to the Holland Champions League competitor, Ajax. Every player on Ajax was black and we are all white. Our warm up was short. The pitch was watered. We took the field, Dutch System vs. Dutch System. Ryan McGonigle accounted for the first score of the game. It was a well-fought game. Ajax being too settled for our condition and fatigue, they dominated possession and finished goals. The end result was 6-2 (G, Corday).

Exhausted, we headed for dinner. My roommates ate at a good, dark, and wooden wine and steak restaurant. Adventurously, Eddie ordered Ostich Steak, Giuseppe got Warthog on a skewer, and I devoured Kudu with rice and shaltanas.

As I said, the good and the bad coincide within each other, making days like this, one of the best days of my life.



Anonymous Chad Weaver said...

Great update Josh! you are a very good writer! Sounds like you all are having a very rewarding time! I find myself checking the blog several times a day to see if there is something new and am very excited when something is posted. Love the pictures and the ability to almost feel like we are there with you on the trip. Experience as much as you all can while you are there and remember you can always catch up on sleep when you are back home... Can't wait for the next update and tell Tyler and Kassidy that their uncle and aunt love them! Chad and Jolene Weaver

March 17, 2008 at 6:54 PM  
Blogger Steve Peed said...

I have to agree with the poster above. I look forward to every email chime from mid-afternoon forward.

March 17, 2008 at 7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog is awesome...I look forward to it everyday. Thank you so very much for sharing your experiences with me here in Chicago. Special Hi and hugs to Brandon and Lane. Enjoy and know that I'm thinking about all of you while you are so far away.
Hugs and smiles...jann corday

March 17, 2008 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger Lenore Fisher said...

Hi Guys! We love your blogs. They are sooooo interesting and descriptive we feel like we are there. Really enjoyed the video and pictures today especially of the children at the camp. Can't wait for tomorrow's post. Thanks for taking the time to do this. P.s. Hi Brian!

March 17, 2008 at 9:10 PM  
Blogger sandy said...

Josh, your updates are truly amazing! Your words show us here in the states what all of you are seeing everyday! Your descriptions bring your adventures to life through your words. I can see why your experience brought you to tears- as this was a life-changing moment for you and your teammates.Continue to share with us often. I am sharing your blog and photos with my students and colleagues in the school where I teach 3rd grade.They look forward to reading your daily updates and seeing your images. We can't wait for the next update! Have fun!All our Love, Mom,Dad, Ben, and all grandparents who are reading daily as well.

March 17, 2008 at 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, amazing post. glad you all made it there safe and are having an incredible time.
-amy amato

March 17, 2008 at 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi guys!

Receiving Coach's email that you arrived safely was a blessing. Josh, I love your personable updates. It's so nice to hear more than the "what we did today" information. How incredible! Not only are these kids fortunate to have you but you boys are lucky to be such a big part of their lives. The photos are beautiful and I can't wait to hear more! XO send my love


March 18, 2008 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Tami Lantz said...

Greetings from the Economics, Religious, and Judaic Studies Departments back at Franklin & Marshall!!

As the mom of a soccer player I was very excited to see that you are using a blog to keep in touch over your time in Cape Town. I will be passing this on to her team and Coach for them to keep up with you also.

WOW are the only words that can describe the pictures and your updates. Grass Roots Soccer is an incredible partner - what an amazing project to be a part of. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.

Tami Lantz

March 18, 2008 at 12:43 PM  

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