July 20, 2013
Nicole Chanin, a rising junior on the Vanderbilt bowling team, is one of more than 20 Commodore student-athletes and staff on a 10-day journey with Soles4Souls to deliver shoes to those in need in Tanzania, Africa. The international service trip is the first for Vanderbilt athletics in which the student-athletes are solely providing service and not participating in any scheduled athletic competition during the trip. Chanin gives her perspective on day 6 of this unique experience.
Tanzania Journal: Trip Archive | Day 5 | Day 4 | Days 1-3
Habri gani from Kigoma!
As I look back on today's events it all seems pretty simple: give shoes and give love.
Our first stop this morning was the Brother Sol's Brother's of Charity orphanage, an organization that serves people of all ages and needs varying from homelessness, mental illness, HIV and the hearing impaired. For our second stop, we drove to a secondary school called Neighbors Without Boarders that provides vocational training, such as dress making and carpentry, for young men and women who cannot afford college schooling. If only "admirable" was enough of a word to describe just how amazing both of these organizations are towards creating a better life.
Having two days of distribution experience under our belt, our group of nearly 30 student athletes and staff pulled together like never before to fit, wash, sort, and size a few hundred children and adults into their new pair of shoes. The smiles were countless, the appreciation overwhelming, the love over flowing, and our mission accomplished. To sum it up simply in the words of Brother Sol, "I am because you are and you are because I am."
After we delivered all of the shoes to their new and exciting owners, it was time for the games to begin. Once the children at Neighbors Without Boarders learned we were a group of athletes, not even seconds passed before our group from Vanderbilt was challenged to track races, soccer matches, gymnastics, push up competitions and everyone's favorite physical fitness test, arm wrestling! It was an all-out field day. Even with the awkward hand gestures and facial expressions exchanged to communicate, there is something special and unique about the international language of sports.
There are few times in life when words diminish what we feel. For me, along with the rest of the Commodores, today is definitely such a day.
What I do know to be true is, "Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and I remember more than I have seen."
Brandon Barca's Day 6 Photos