Falling in Love with Rwanda - 2nd Coach's Clinic

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Muraho, Amakuro? (good day, how are you?),

From Monday through Thursday this week, we hosted our 2nd coach's clinic at AGR Friendly Youth Center.  We had been planning this for a while, and have been meeting with Alice, the woman who runs the center, for some time.  She is always so excited to see us and especially loves Isa and thinks Isa is hilarious – which she is.  In fact, on the last day of our clinic, before we showed the Coach Hurley Instructional DVD, we were hanging out with some people there and Isa began dancing to something on the radio and immediately without any hesitation one nurse who worked there began dancing.  Isa’s blog should have the video – it was one of the funniest and coolest moments of the experience so far.

Long story short, AGR is simply awesome.  They have a library, counseling, a health center, a cultural center, and they train kids to get their taximoto licenses.  Alice has been so competent and a joy to work with.  On the first day of the camp, another Alice, who is in a leadership position there, came up and approached Isa and I with a full roster of the coaches – complete with name, neighborhood, and phone number.  Due to the fact that Isa and I have been experiencing so much disorganization, once we saw this, we knew AGR was serious about working with us. 

Every day of the clinic, we had full access to the large classroom and were able to use a big white board to draw up terminology and places of the basketball court.  We also got full usage of the court whenever we wanted it.  Aside from the hospitality, the coaches were SO into the clinic the whole time, and completely bought in.  They all came on time (relatively), and really studied for their test.  We did the same thing as we did with CHRISC coaches at that clinic in Gatenga – we would explain a concept or terminology, and then have the coaches teach it back to us so we know they understood it completely.  A huge surprise were the ages of the coaches – some were as young as 15.  In fact, one of my favorite coaches named Patrick was 15 and he completely aced his coaching test – 47/47 points.  My hope is that he helps us coach the younger kids in the morning and then plays in the afternoon during our 1st Annual December Classic.

On the Thursday, we got all AGR coaches and CHRISC coaches to watch some of Hurley’s DVD and take the test.  It was unbelievable to see all the coaches with their notes and diagrams, studying together.  They really took it seriously, and this is a good sign for Shooting Touch in terms of sustainability.  The test results were pretty good – except for some people had trouble with the English pronunciation of "guard" as in “shooting guard.”  Most of them wrote it down as “shooting ground” – but I don’t care, they got the concept, and know what a shooting guard does.  Ngabo, one of our top coaches from the earlier clinic, came and actually led some basketball skills and life lessons exercises.  Ngabo has been studying the Hurley DVD furiously and actually corrected some of the coaches on his own because he noticed they were not squaring up perfectly.  Ngabo said after Wednesday’s clinic that because of the DVD, he will coach the Rwandan National Team some day. This week, we taught them a new exercise – where we all passed an object around behind our backs in a circle as a person in the middle tried to guess which one of us had the ball.  We all pretended to pass it to each other, regardless if we actually had the ball or not.  Needless to say, it was impossible for the guy in the middle to guess which one of us had the ball. The ball, of course, represents HIV, and the moral of the story is that you cannot perceive who has HIV by looking at them, and furthermore, cannot judge anybody by what they look like.  You must ask and get to know the person.  After the test, we had them write down all their contact info, and told them they will become fully certified once they work or attend one of our camps.  At the end of the day, we had 20 Coaches reach this "half-certified" level! I am really excited to see how they perform at the camps!

The planning for the December Classic is fully underway and it completely ready to go.  Our first camp starts Monday and Isa and I will be doing basketball camps from 9-4 Monday through Thursday at SFB through SIRA Sports Inclusion, with a tournament to determine which team plays in the final tournament celebration on December 15th on Saturday.  We are hoping that we can get the National Basketball Stadium reserved for the 15th… that would be awesome!  Things to do here – still get some sponsors, set up a radio and newspaper announcement.

 My attitude on Rwanda has completely changed since the first two weeks.  I feel finally at home here, and I really am enjoying myself.  Even though things may not happen as swiftly as they do in the United States, they still eventually happen, and you actually care about the people that are helping you make it happen, so it really doesn’t matter that it takes longer.  This all hit me on the walk back to the bus stop, when I looked over the valley lit up by a thousand tiny lights and realized, I am really starting to fall in love with this country.  A text from Thierry read “I love you guys, proud to call you my friend.”  So nice, and HE’S the one taking US out to get paint in the morning, and paying for our taxi trip back.  Are you kidding?

 For example, at every meeting you go to, even a quick stop in a store (sometimes), you usually shake everyone’s hand in the room.  I feel like if I don’t catch myself and stop doing this before I return to the U.S., people may think I am weird.

 I found the true, but less corny meaning of Living the Dream.  If you say it too much, it loses its’ meaning, but think of it this way.  If someone told me when I was 16 that they had a dream where they were in Rwanda climbing into a 12 person bus but filled with 22 people headed for a mysterious place called “Nyabugogo” or “Nyamirambo,” and I’d be like, how did you even think of that creative of a name, sounds like an awesome dream.  That is what is making this trip for me. 

Quick hits - came home and neighbor kids peered over fence (home improvement style) and were yelling “give me money!” “give me ball” “give me sunglasses” and I responded “give me privacy, give me respect, give me silence” as a joke… They understood the word “silence” and started shouting “give me silence! Give me silence!”… classic.  Isa and I were cracking up!

I am learning so much not through books, but through conversations with people, seeing how they feel about certain aspects of life in Rwanda, their family histories, etc.  I feel there is no better way to learn about your surroundings.

How to get taximotos off your back – tell them “oyea” which translates to “no” in Rwanda.  People really respect you if you do, or even try to, speak Kinyarwanda. 

Becoming a master negotiator – went to the crafts market and bought some HUGE masks – like 2-3 feet in height, and had my man man Dominique help me negotiate prices.  The strongest negotiating tactic is to just walk out and say “I’ll be back” because they vendors know you actually won’t “be back” so they ask you how much you are willing to pay, and the ball is in your court.

We moved into Dominique’s house – a teammate of mine from UGB.  He has been awesome, and always helps us out with everything.  The location is beautiful, near all the embassies.  The median of the road has palm trees in it so when I run at night, I feel like I’m in California. 

So in closing, shoutout to Dominique for having us without any hesitation, shoutout to Benjamin for planning the December Classic with us, shoutout to AGR for being so into our project, shoutout to Richard of FERWABA for possibly offering us the National Stadium, and shoutout to Isa for being such a great teammate through all of this!  Pumped to get the ball REALLY rolling with our camps!  Gonna be a busy next 4 weeks, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
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