Vanderbilt Athletics

Commodores in Tanzania 2013
Vanderbilt University Athletics partnered with Soles4Souls to send 21 Commodore student-athletes and five support staff on a 10-day journey to deliver shoes to those in need in Tanzania, Africa in July. The international service trip was the first for Vanderbilt athletics in which the student-athletes solely provided service and did not participate in any scheduled athletic competition during the trip.

Commodore student-athletes shared their perspective on this unique experience in the blogs listed below.

Video Recap: Commodores in Tanzania
By Brandon Barca,

Winning a national team championship would be the ultimate thrill for me but nothing at Vanderbilt will ever have the profound impact on my life that the Tanzania trip has made. It was an eye-opening experience; we were treated as heroes when we didn't deserve to be. A pair of shoes became the best Christmas morning ever.


Reflecting on Tanzania
By Abby Carr, Vanderbilt Soccer

In sports terms, our trip to Kigoma, Tanzania was one giant head-fake. You see, we thought we were going there to give shoes to those less fortunate. Instead, we received more than we had imagined or gone to give. We learned the value of a simple act of kindness, seemingly small to us, but for those who received it, insurmountably significant. We saw a kind of love that has no limitations. And lastly, our lives have been forever changed, as we now understand that because of our many blessings, we have a duty to care for, and more importantly love, those less fortunate.


Day 9: Commodores in Tanzania (July 23)
By Megan Yohe, Vanderbilt Cross Country and Track

How do you capture a moment? How do you ensure you'll remember it for a lifetime? Is it possible to hold an instant in your pocket and let it impact your everyday? There are moments you know you never want to forget. There are times you want to look back on so it can shape and mold how you live out your life for the better. Whether it's an event that makes you roll off the floor laughing or a moment that challenges every interaction from there on out, I'm beyond thankful for these kind of moments. And Africa was full of these kind of moments: moments that made me thankful, countless instants that humbled me, and endless distributions and days that overflowed me with joy.


Day 8: Commodores in Tanzania (July 22)
By Ashley Vega, Vanderbilt Soccer

"Hakuna matata"...what a wonderful phrase. Native to possibly the best movie of all time, this expression is repeatedly heard throughout the country of Tanzania. Through our experiences here in Kigoma this week, it is evident that locals take these words to heart and although they may lack material possessions, their positive outlook on life more than makes up for it.


Day 7: Commodores in Tanzania (July 21)
By Rene Sobolewski, Vanderbilt Women's Golf

Each day it seems that I've come back and decided that that day was my favorite so far. Today was no exception.

Distributing shoes was once again rewarding as ever. I can't put into words how amazing it is to be able to bring such joy through a pair of shoes. Some of the children would even stand up and twirl around or jump up and down, while others would give you a huge hug or two or three! One of the leaders told me that he ran 15 km this morning, but simply because of these shoes, he would now be able to run at least 20. It was a statement so simple and honest, yet so moving.


Day 6: Commodores in Tanzania (July 20)
By Nicole Chanin, Vanderbilt Bowling

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.


Day 5: Commodores in Tanzania (July 19)
By Grant Ramsay, Vanderbilt Football

We started Friday in Kigoma by walking three kilometers to a children's school for our first shoe distribution of the day. After concluding our second day with Soles4Souls, everyone seemed to be anticipating the joy to come once we arrived at the school to begin our work.


Day 4: Commodores in Tanzania (July 18)
By Ashleigh Antal, Vanderbilt Women's Tennis

We're finally in Kigoma! We crossed Tanzania Thursday on a three-hour flight in a prop plane to be greeted by a rocky runway and our guides who exchanged our handshakes for hugs.

We climbed into a yellow bus, and proceeded to our first distribution site: a home for children without families. The 15-minute drive was eye opening for all of us. It was an experience really unlike any other. This was our first actual taste of Tanzania, and the poverty we are bound to encounter throughout the rest of the trip. The initial silence on the bus ride was soon broken by excited greetings from people watching us drive by, which quickly allowed our excitement to set in.


Days 1-3: Commodores in Tanzania (July 15-17)
By Brandon Barca,

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.


Vanderbilt, Soles4Souls join together for service trip to Tanzania (July 14)
By Brandon Barca,

Vanderbilt University Athletics is partnering with Soles4Souls to send more than 20 Commodore student-athletes and five support staff on an eight-day service trip to Tanzania, Africa in July.

The international service trip will be the first for Vanderbilt athletics in which the student-athletes will solely provide service and not participate in any scheduled athletic competition during the trip.

Vanderbilt's group will begin its trek from Nashville on July 15 with the mission of distributing shoes and clothes to those in need in Kigoma, Tanzania.


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