Andrew: Learned So Far

The privilege to go around the world and learn so many things is amazing. It was so hard to pick just three things to highlight in this document. But when forced, I chose these three because it is important to get these messages out to other people: soccer is a connection, smiling brings people together, and clean water is critical but disappearing.

The first thing I have learned is that soccer is a connection. Wherever we went the kids would look differently, dress differently and speak a different language but really both of us were just kids who liked the same things. In the Andes in a village called Patacancha we played soccer with the kids, which bridged the Gorge of Differences. Even though we were wearing t-shirts and shorts and they were wearing colorful layers of intricate ponchos we got along very well. Likewise in Kawaza Village, Zambia where, after we slept there for a night, we felt like bicultural extended families. We also played a huge soccer match on their field made out of dirt. Playing soccer on this field was their source of fun because they don’t have electricity let alone gaming systems. We even got to help these extremely talented kids score into their goals made out of strategically placed sticks.

Another thing we learned is that smiling brings people together. When, at times, we would feel uncomfortable around different people, when one smiled the other would repeat and the tension would break. Just as in the high Andes in Peru with Anselmo, our llama herder, we would smile and speak Spanish to him and he would reply happily. The girls also taught him lacrosse, which was a completely alien thing to him. That brought smiles to the faces of most everyone. In addition, with the Samburu tribe in Kenya we would smile to these very different people (who even drank cow blood!) and they would smile back.

My third and last point is that clean water is critical but disappearing. Some people on this vast planet don’t have clean water to bathe in let alone drink. For instance outside of Purros, Namibia, in the Okongombezemba village, the Himba had to rub ochre on themselves instead of bathing. Water is also an issue in the Atacama Desert in Chile, where in some places the ground has never felt rain. The whole town inside this barren desert, San Pedro de Atacama, is basically built on one of the few oases of the land. This water is all glacial run-off from the mountains that block the rain from coming over from the Amazon. The glaciers are receding so water supply for this town is decreasing every year.

Soccer is a connection, a smile brings people together and clean water is critical but disappearing. These are very real messages and are lasting impressions from my marvelous journey around the world.

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4 Responses to “Andrew: Learned So Far”

  1. 🙂 I agree! Here is a smile to you from across the world. You are so empathetic with people Andrew! I can hear the compassion in your words and they are beautiful!! Thank you. Love, Phyllis

  2. Emma, Alex, Reis and Andrew ! I hear a common theme throughout your essays ! WATER ! Your observations are inspiring .. perhaps you will help chart a course to finding solutions in the future ! You could all be the Dover Water Works !
    I am enjoying your messages ! Safe journey !
    Theresa

  3. Hi Andrew! We hear over and again that soccer is truly the world’s sport…you all are seeing that first hand! Chewy will love to hear all your soccer stories when you return. You’ll have to think of the craziest place you played! Keep smiling on your travels and we will keep smiling here…you are right – and smart! – to recognize such a simple truth. Smiles are contagious. Have fun, love, Lisa

  4. Smiles and soccer and travel. Does it get better than that?