Vanderbilt Athletics

Commodores in Tanzania: Days 1-3

July 17, 2013

After traveling on five airplanes over three continents for three days, close to 30 Commodore student-athletes and support staff made it to Africa Wednesday morning.

The route wasn't an easy one: living out of a suitcase, adjusting to an eight-hour time change, and sleeping on planes consecutive nights takes its toll on the body. But everyone remained in good spirits upon arrival in Africa Wednesday morning with their focus on the mission of the trip: give shoes and give love to those in need in Tanzania.

The group, comprised of student-athletes from 10 Commodores teams, started in Nashville at 5:30 Monday morning with a flight to Atlanta. Next stop was JFK in New York and then across the Atlantic Ocean overnight to Amsterdam, a trip that lasted seven hours. With a long layover in the Netherlands Tuesday, there was time for sightseeing downtown until it was time to board another overnight flight for eight hours to Naroibi, Kenya. The Commodores were greeted by a beautiful African sunrise Wednesday morning, and then it was off to the capital of Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam.

Most of Wednesday was spent resting to gain strength for a week of distributing shoes with Soles4Souls to orphanages and schools. The Commodores will catch a three-hour flight to Kigoma, which is located on the western border of Tanzania, Thursday morning and will remain there for the rest of the trip (July 24).

This unique journey, the first international service trip of its kind for Vanderbilt athletics in which multiple teams are traveling without athletic competition scheduled, promises to be a life-changer. We'll keep you updated as much as time (and internet access) allows over the next week on Below is a photo blog of the first three days of our journey.

Photo Blog

Alexis Mayhall (Swimming), Liz Saffold (Bowling), Erin Edmond (Track), Irina Gabasa (Women's Golf), Kimberly Koehler (Women's Golf), Nicole Chanin (Bowling) and Megan Yohe (Women's Cross Country) in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam Tuesday morning.

Grant Ramsay (Football), Scot Aiello (Football), Andrew Fix (Men's Cross Country) and Nick French (Men's Cross Country) are just "clogging around" in the airport.

We had a long layover in Amsterdam, so we took the train downtown. And when you have a group of almost 30, it's tough not to look like a bunch of tourists.  

Bicycles are the main vehicle of transportation in this part of Amsterdam. Bike lanes on streets are almost the size of car lanes, and we can dig that.

Kerry Wilbar (Sports Medicine), Erin Edmond (Track), Liz Saffold (Bowling) and Nicole Chanin (Bowling) have a window-view for lunch--pizza and crepes--in Amsterdam.

Abby Carr and Emily Bush (Soccer) in Amsterdam

Liz Anderson (Women's Cross Country), Amanda Lockwood (Lacrosse), Maddie Kratz (Lacrosse), Sarah Tustin (Lacrosse) and Grace Orders (Women's Cross Country)

Ashleigh Antal (Women's Tennis) and Rene Sobolewski (Women's Golf)

The group spent a couple of hours exploring Amsterdam by foot. And yes, it's true: there's a distinct smell in the air of the city.

Kimberly Koehler, Irina Gabasa and Rene Sobolewski (Women's Golf)

Not a bad spot to catch a bite to eat.

Nicole Chanin and Liz Saffold (Bowling)

Amanda Lockwood, Sarah Tustin and Maddie Kratz (Lacrosse)

Group photo on the bridge

Scot Aiello (Football), Andrew Fix (Men's Cross Country), Nick French (Men's Cross Country) and>Grant Ramsay (Football)

You couldn't ask for a better day to see the city.

Our Soles4Souls group leaders, Melissa and Kelly.

Ashley Vega (Soccer), Megan Yohe (Women's Cross Country) and Kimberly Koehler (Women's Golf)

If you don't watch out, you'll get run over. Seriously.

Nick French and Andrew Fix (Men's Cross Country)

Photo op inside the gigantic letters of "I Amsterdam" 

Nick French (Men's Cross Country) and Erin Edmond (Track)

Maddie Kratz (Lacrosse), Grace Orders (Women's Cross Country), Amanda Lockwood (Lacrosse), Sarah Tustin (Lacrosse) and>Liz Anderson (Women's Cross Country)

Abby Carr and>Ashley Vega (Soccer)

Waiting in Nairobi for the next flight to Tanzania Wednesday morning.

Boarding Kenya Airways en route to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Inside Kenya Airways, the Pride of Africa.

The view of Africa from above.

Finally! We made it. This is going to be a special week.

As excited as we were to be in Africa on day three of the trip, we discovered that a majority of the luggage would not arrive until later in the day.

One quick huddle before leaving the airport.

Our first glimpse of Africa from the ground level.

Our ride for the day. Next stop: the Holiday Inn. There seem to be no rules on the road here. Everyone just does their thing, lanes or no lanes.

US President Barack Obama visited Tanzania earlier this month and there were still signs of his portrait lining the streets.

More images of Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania.

After arriving at the hotel, the group enjoyed some downtime the rest of the day. Tomorrow, we'll make the first of many trips to deliver new shoes to those in need. It's a blessing to be here. Wish us luck.

Proud Sponsors of Commodore Athletics