The Zimbabwe Field Academy began this morning with a educational tour of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. We visited the National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe, where we saw both historic and modern Zimbabwean art. We then moved onto the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences, where we saw the many exhibits that discussed the evolution of life on the continent of Africa. It was great to see how the history of Africa connected to other time periods that the students had been studying while they were in school. Finally, we stopped and ate a late lunch at the Zimbabwe National Botanic Gardens, which was a great way to end the morning and relax before we headed to another Hoops4Hope activity.
Today we went to the community of Kurwadzana. When we arrived at the court we were immediately swept onto the court and joined the children in songs and dances. We also shared some “positive vibes” with each other and it was a great to see so many students both from Ross and Zimbabwe share so many positive things. Some of my personal favorite vibes included the idea that “education is power” and a reminder to “work hard”. After putting these vibes together we were able to share them with the entire Hoops4Hope group. We then had an opportunity to see several primary schools scrimmage against each other for a short time. The scrimmages were intense and Ross students had a chance to participate in the game as coaches, referees, and scorekeepers. The cheers that erupted from the crown as every point was scored were incredible. It was clear that winning and losing was not the main issue here, but rather cheering on each other and working together as teams to accomplish more together was the primary focus.
This morning while riding on the bus towards downtown Harare, the Matchbox 20 classic “How Far We’ve Come” played over my headphones. This song has always been a special one for me and I do not think that it could have played at a better time. You see, the students on this trip have come such a long way from when we landed in Zimbabwe just one week ago. They have grown into energetic leaders, role models, and have come to understand their impact on the world around them. It has been important for our students to come to Zimbabwe and see the pure joy that is elicited on the faces of the children here every single moment of the programs put on by Hoops4Hope. Our Ross students have been learning what is important not just in these activities, but even in life.
Sneakers? Don’t need them.
More than 10 basketballs for over 200 children? Not important.
A court that doesn’t have potholes in it? Unnecessary.
Instead, what our Ross students have come to understand is that these things are just small tools that do not complete the entire picture. While these items certainly make things easier, they do not make people happier. The children in Zimbabwe show so much joy and enjoyment in whatever they are doing: singing and dancing, shooting and dribbling, thinking and sharing. It has been an eye-opening experience to see that attitude in these children. It has been incredible to see the energy and dedication of the H4H staff every single day while we are here. That energy has crossed over into our Ross students and has shown in every single activity that they have done this far. They most certainly have come a long way over the course of this trip and I am excited to see how they will continue to grow as we begin our second week in Zimbabwe.