Day 7: More than just a game

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Jason hangs out with just a few of his new friends!

As we hit the one week mark on Field Academy 2016, the Ross students in Zimbabwe are having an incredible time making connections with people and seeing the impact that sports can have on communities. We have been working hand in hand with our friends at Hoops4Hope to be a part of their programming, watching and participating in their after school clinics for kids in the Harare area. Today, we spent time in the Dzivarasekwa (DZ) neighborhood, where unfortunately our plans were met by a sudden rainstorm. As we all headed over to a covered bleacher area of a soccer field, Ross students and Hoops4Hope staff jumped out onto the field together and played a quick game of soccer for the crowd. The impact was immediately felt as the children of DZ cheered loudly for both sides. The impact goes beyond just making people feel good because it was in that moment there was a community and bond was formed between Ross School and these children. We’ve been experiencing moments like this the entire trip (as you will read twice below), where sports have seemingly taken over and has united people, young and old(er), Ross students and Zimbabwean children, and has ultimately taught us that there is significant power in these “games” that bring us all a little bit closer.  It has been hard not to smile while watching Ross students interact with these children, as they have been incredible at opening their hearts and welcoming new people into their lives every day.

 

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A look from above into DZ.

 


 

Before coming to Zimbabwe, I had the chance to chat with many Zimbabwean people on Whatsapp. We set up a large group chat with hundreds of people in it to talk about anything and everything. Over the past few days, I’ve met a lot of the people that I had been talking to on Whatsapp. People like Tida, Munahse, and Charles who all play basketball. Talking to them and just learning about what their lives are like has been amazing for me. Tida has especially become a close friend of mine as we had been talking for months before the trip.

Tida is a very good player even though he will never say so himself. He plays for his school basketball team and a club team called the Raiders as well as the Zimbabwe under 20 national team. We sit with each other on the bus every day and just talk. Today he told me “I like making friends but I like even more when I make a brother.” After hearing that I know we are going to be friends for a long time.

Munashe plays on the club team with Tida. He’s not that tall, about my height, but he has got very long arms. He tells me he can dunk and I can’t wait to see it. I had also talked to him a little bit before we left for the trip. I just met him today but I’m looking forward to learning more about him.

Charles is one of the younger players as he is only 15. He plays on the Zimbabwe under 17 national team as well as the school team with Tida. He played in a game with us today and he’s got a nice shot. He’s got a lot of potential to be a really good player.

– Jared

Me, Charles (Left), and Tida (Right)

Me, Charles (Left), and Tida (Right)


 

Ross School vs Zimbabwe. That was the expected matchup for today’s game. But after spending a few days together we decided that we are all too close to divide us that simply. The feeling of Ubuntu is already running thick through our blood. Thus, we mixed the teams up and played one of the most entertaining and competitive games the players have ever been a part of.

It was a high scoring game with the lead going back and forth throughout. Fate had decided that a regulation game was not enough and we found ourselves playing in double overtime. Players were drenched in sweat and exhausted left and right. There were 5 seconds left on the clock with one team up by 2. As the team with the lead’s free throw rimmed out, Maynard grabbed the rebound and gave a quick outlet to Chris who had 2 seconds remaining. He took two dribbles, picked the ball up from five feet behind half court, and with two defenders in the air with him…swoosh! The crowd went wild and the players (from both teams) rushed the court in celebration. It was a perfect ending to an incredible game.

This much-anticipated matchup between Ross and Zimbabwe became a great display of Ubuntu and a demonstration of how sport can unite people from all over. Looking forward to more memorable moments…

– Max

 

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Jonas and Jared deliver new balls to the managers of Richwood Park.

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The entire Ross and Zimbabwe teams.

Ross and Zimbabwe in a double over-time thriller.

Ross and Zimbabwe in a double overtime thriller.

 

Day 6: Clear Waters and Good Games

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One of the many great views of the Chinoyi Caves

In the morning, we left to see the largest caves in Zimbabwe. We first picked up groceries for our dinner that we would all make together tonight. We were all amazed how nice the shopping market was, possibly even better than what we have at home. After we bought all of our groceries, we got back on the bus and began our 2-hour drive through the countryside to the caves. This was the first time we all got to see the countryside, and it was amazing. We saw traditional huts in the fields and miles of corn fields. Hills dominated the landscape. When we finally got to the cave entrance, we got a brief orientation about the caves and rules we had to follow: no swimming in the caves, no climbing, and several other rules. We ventured down into the cave called “Sleeping Cave”. As people descended into the giant cave, everyone was immediately amazed when they saw the crystal clear blue that appeared at the base of the cave. When we got closer, we could really see how clear it was because you could see far below the surface. It’s a popular destination for scuba divers and the cave’s depth is unknown. We headed back up the rock stairs and explored the neighboring cave that eventually linked up to the backside of the “Sleeping Cave”. This cave’s entrance was very steep and quite dark. It involved walking through tight spaces and Jonas and I found parts of the cave that were small you couldn’t stand up. After exploring the caves, we walked to the picnic area and had another traditional Zimbabwean lunch. After lunch, we climbed trees and played a fun game of soccer.

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Later in the evening, we went to go see a local basketball game between two semi-pro teams. One team was composed of players from the University of Zimbabwe, and the other team was made up of players from Mukafose, a community that we had visited just a couple of days before. It was a really exciting game and there was a large local crowd watching. The Community team ended up winning with a score of 90-45. After the game, we headed back home and began cooking dinner. Chris Ragone was the head chef and decided we were going to have Tacos. They were delicious and almost everyone contributed. After dinner, we had some down time to reflect on our day.

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Checking out the Harare Basketball Association

 

Day 6: A Tale of Two Harares

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Today (Saturday) was our second full day in Zimbabwe, and we again started the day off with an amazing breakfast with an even better view. We then traveled to the Harare Children’s Home to play with the children there. I made a new friend named Anaesu. He is a small and cute 3 year old boy. During our time at the Children’s Home, I played with him, helped feed him, and made him laugh. When we had to leave, I hugged him and he began to cry. I felt amazing but also terrible on the inside. I could tell that I impacted a children’s life, but I also left him so soon after spending a day with him that really touched his life.

After going to the orphanage, we went to the Wild is Life animal sanctuary. We saw cheetahs, fed giraffes, talked with elephants, and even engaged with lions. These animals had all been injured or has had some other event prevent them from living in the wild. The sanctuary provided the animals with a place to live that was very close to their natural habitat.

– Audrix

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We left the house at around 9:00 and took the bus to the children’s home, the largest orphanage in Harare. As we got off the bus the kids ran up to us to play. It seemed as though we all got attached to one or two children and played with them for our time at the children’s home. Some of us were given tours of the interiors of the orphanage’s buildings. After the tour and after seeing how they live we played with them for hours. We ran around and engaged in different activities like soccer, basketball, dancing, and singing. We then gave the children paper and crayons and they drew beautiful picture. One boy drew a picture of Jonas and Alex, and then another girl wrote Manny a letter saying how much she will miss her and that she loves her and “had the best day ever”. Many of us were extremely emotional leaving the children. It was an experience we will remember for the rest of our lives. After finishing at the children’s home, we went to a wild life sanctuary, which had exotic rescued animals such as lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, and many more. The sanctuary was beautiful and most of the animals roamed freely, except for the dangerous ones, like the lions and cheetahs. The most memorable part of our visit to the wild life sanctuary was probably feeding the giraffes branches. Another memorable memory was when Jonas put his phone in the lions cage to video and the lion jolted at him. We left the sanctuary in very good moods, and then went to get dinner at Nando’s. We then came home for a night swim and took time to reflect on the happenings of the day.

– Jonas and Manny

Here’s a note from Trip Leader Hailey London about our trip to the Harare Children’s Home:

“This morning, I tried to subtly brace the group before we traveled to the Harare Children’s Home, reminding them to allow themselves to feel whatever emotion may come up. They truly blew me away with their emotional maturity, ability to engage and the way the opened their hearts instantly to these children. Within seconds each Ross child had a small child in their arms, which stayed full all morning as child after child sought some affection. They made me prouder than I could imagine and exceeded any wish I could imagine”

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Day 5: Meeting New Friends in Mukafose

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Day 1 of working with Hoops4Hope was an amazing experience. We started off the day with breakfast on our balcony, and took in the breathtaking scenery. After we’d all eaten, we headed off to the Hoops4Hope headquarters where we met up with the founder Mark Crandall. We got a brief background and history of Hoops4Hope, and learned that the main mission is to help kids find a safe place to have fun. The organization has been improving the daily lives of children through education and athletics for over 20 years.
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After the briefing, we journeyed to the Tendayi Primary School in Harare. Once we got off the bus, we were greeted by hundreds of young Zimbabweans, all with bright smiling faces. We were struck with joy and left speechless, as we did not think our presence could change this many lives. Throughout the day, we worked with the kids teaching them life skills,  and practiced basketball skills with them. Today gave us a chance to experience first hand how a community can come together as one and incorporate their values into introducing people into the community. When we finished working with the kids, we headed back to the house for dinner and free time. The day ended with relaxation and a well deserved piece of cake.
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As Dani said, “I think that it is important to do something like this once a year. It is an eye opener , it brings you back to earth and reminds you what is important in life.” Jared agreed, saying that it changed the way that he saw the world and that it has alread impacted his view on the world and what he wants to do in the future.

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– Audrix and Manny

Good Morning Zimbabwe!

   
Good morning from Zimbabwe! We made it to Harare last night at 5:00 local time. From there we moved into our home for the next ten days. We promptly went to sleep after our 24 hours of traveling!
This morning a bunch of us woke up to catch the sunrise. Some students even did yoga to start their morning off right!

  

 

Day 3: Soarin’

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Thanks to Alex’s Mom for the picture from this morning!

Hello from atop of the Atlantic Ocean!We are currently cruising towards the mainland of Europe at 36,008 feet and 547 miles per hour. This morning, at 5:30 am we packed and loaded 24 bags of donated items that we collected over the course of the last couple of months to bring to children in Zimbabwe. Once all of the bags were loaded, we took off towards Harare!

 

Day 2

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Today was the second day of our Field Academy on campus activities. After going over presentations this morning, including the economics of Zimbabwe we split up into two groups. One group headed over to the CWB and spent time organizing donated supplies that we sill bring to Zimbabwe for Hoops4Hope, ZimKids, and the Harare Children’s Home. The items included materials such as sporting equipment like basketball uniforms, t-shirts, shoes, basketballs, basketball nets, whistles, and hats. We attempted to fit the surplus of equipment into the extra suitcases we brought from home.
The idea behind bringing extra supplies was not only to give back to the community but also to provide a greater number of underprivileged children with their equipment they need in order to engage in activities that strengthen their skills. The other group of students went to the Senior Building kitchens and worked on preparing traditional snacks of Zimbabwe. Even though cooking the snacks was a hassle, all the hard work will be worth it later today when everyone gets to sample the traditional cuisine at our 3:00 PM goodbye party. If you’re reading this before then, make sure to stop by!
– Audrix and Manny

Video by Alex, Jonas, and Dani:

Day 1 in the books

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After a long day on campus, we have successfully finished the first day of Field Academy 2016! We’d like to welcome you to our blog, where we will be excitedly telling the story of the Zimbabwe Field Academy. We began today by sharing our research presentations, including the history of Zimbabwe, environmental sustainability issues in Zimbabwe, and more. We moved into the gym before lunch to play some Skills 4 Life games. These games are developed by the staff of Hoops4Hope in order to teach their players about like skills. Some of these games discuss HIV education while others communicate about balancing all of the important aspects of a student’s life. Today we tried out some of our own Skills 4 Life games and discussed some of the lessons we learned from it. Later on in the day, we started working on developing some of our Skills 4 Life games in preparation for our trip.

Check out some video highlights below!

Welcome!

Hello all and welcome to our Zimbabwe Field Academy blog! We hope you continue to check back here for updates throughout our trip. Our goal is to have you feel like you are on our adventure with us traveling through Zimbabwe.  We are going to experience an amazing land, culture, environment and some of the most wonderful people in the world!

#Ubuntu