• Spreading the Love

    May 18th 2017. CAC’s Ashlyn Hardie writes about her first week On-Field in Harare, Zimbabwe with the Sports and Recreation Commission.

    For months now I have been working part time for CAC, taking care of all social media outlets, newsletters, and posting the blogs from everyone else’s travel adventures. Finally, after months of build up to my first trip on-field as a CAC employee, I am able to post a blog about my very own personal experiences! Although this trip is the first of many experiences for me, I can already tell it will be incredibly unique.

    Our partners, Sports and Recreation Commission of Zimbabwe, have put us up at the guest lodge of Prince Edwards High School. This all boys boarding school is incredibly well known in Zimbabwe for producing the highest quality athletes, and giving a wide range of opportunities for their students to succeed in their future endeavors. Not only this, but the campus stands as a little patch of peace and beauty in the heart of the noise and commotion of Harare. Within hours of being on campus it seemed as though we had made so many new friends. The hospitality from every single Prince Edwards staff member was more than Emily and myself could have asked for. Teachers that we had met would swing by our place to walk us to meals at the dinning hall, offer to drive us to the store, took us to a professional game, and answered all of the many questions we had about life in Zim. Our partners at SRC and the people of Prince Edwards made us feel at home from the moment we arrived.

    The program this week took place at the PE training field, approximately 30 yards from our bedroom windows. It could not have been a better scenario for us to be able to walk out of our rooms, and onto the field! Plus that’s the dream right? Living spitting distance from a soccer pitch?

    Although the people of Zim are all raised speaking Shona, they all also learn English in school. This absolutely minimized our communication barriers, which made for a relaxing, smooth week with our participants. Being able to truly hear how they felt, and sense what they thought about certain topics without a translator gave us a more genuine feel for how these coaches interpreted the social issues in Zimbabwe. I had never seen the up close CAC on-field conversations before this week, but it is hard for me to imagine having them go much better. Some of the stand out conversations from the week were about child’s rights, female empowerment, environmental issues, and an incredibly controversial conversation about HIV education and our game titled “Condom Tag”.

    It was clear that throughout the week these 40 humans from different places and backgrounds were growing together and really digging in to discuss the issues that are sweeping over their communities. As much as I would love to highlight those talking points for anyone who reads this, I think it is more important to share how it felt to be in the presence of those conversations. I was not one hundred percent on how the games would work, and what they would provoke in person, but they exceeded my expectations. There were moments where you could see a lightbulb pop off above someone’s head, where they realized exactly how to convey this message to their kids, moments when you could feel the passion people had for their youth and communities from the tone of their voice. There were moments, not one but many, where I found myself contemplating the differences between my life at home and the lives of those I have come to know and appreciate here in Zim.

    The people of Zim are faced with governmental corruption, poverty, a lack of resources for their teams, and other ongoing hardships on a daily bases. Through this they walk with smiles. These coaches are working with minimal resources for their kids, and still are willing to give everything they have to make their communities a better place. Even those hosting us, have their own struggles, yet have done everything they can do to help us get around the city and feel welcomed. Writing this makes me think of all of those walking the planet who have everything but find themselves unhappy or unfulfilled. I think there is much to be said about the people of Zim, how they approach adversities, how they work and learn to be the best for the future generations, and how they walk with smiles even in hard times.

    I have spent my life loving the game of soccer, knowing what it did for me, and watching it change the lives of people around me. Here, thousands of miles away from home, I watch it do the same. This first week solidifies all the reasons that I took this job, and all the excitement I have moving forward in my time with CAC. At the end of our week one participant stood up and thanked us. He thanked us for coming in and making them feel comfortable, like equals, and like their voice mattered. My immediate response was to thank him too, because these people Harare took in two goofy white girls from the United States of America and hosted us with respect, kindness, and laughter. Soccer is not just a game. It is a lifestyle, a teacher, and a hope. Soccer is love. And on that note, I am happy to say I have 6 more weeks of this trip to keep on spreading it!

     

  • Gender: Zooming in and out as We Search for Equality

    May 5, 2017. Nora Dooley shares thoughts after her visit with long-time partners ACER Brasil in Diadema for the fifth year of programming and first year of ASK for Choice.

     

    What does it mean to be a man? To do something ‘like a man’? To be ‘masculine’?
    What about a woman? Female? Feminine?

    As the lines between genders blur and we begin to understand the origins of these identities, we become better equipped to recognize, question, and challenge expectations, norms, traditions, and cultures that limit us – whoever we are, whatever we call ourselves.

    But…

    While the smashing of labels and boxes that contain us sends a powerful message to any who dare assume our strengths, abilities, and vulnerabilities – our wants, needs, and fears – solely based on what body we are born to… can those same labels serve a collective, more equal future? And if we use those labels to empower us – to put language to injustice and call out oppressing forces – how do we strike the balance between the ideal and the real? How do we walk and breathe equality in a vastly unequal reality?

    These are some of the complex questions we explored on the futsal court last week in Diadema where we have worked for several years with our partners, ACER Brasil.

    Through almost 50 different games and activities we moved together as a group of humans, each with our own individual experiences and visions, towards a tangible, practical, and sustainable goal. We navigated the existing issues and climates that contribute to the realities people in Brazil (and the rest of the world!) are faced with each day, and emerged through this complicated, sometimes blinding, fog with a fresh sense of possibility.

    This group of women and men from different communities, and with nearly 50 years of life between some, welcomed me for the second consecutive year into their space. They offered me their time, ideas, voices, ears, kindness, hugs, and willingness to march together for a future where all of us have access, knowledge, and opportunities to make the choices that will serve our personal and collaborative aims. I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to build on this rich partnership, introducing and tasting new ASK for Choice flavors, and sharing this inspiring and creative environment with the ACER team and our other valuable partners.

    In the final days we made commitments to ourselves and to each other to continue asking ‘Why?’ and to move with clear eyes from the ‘What?’ to the ‘How?’. We played, laughed, danced, discussed, dug deep, reflected, and created. I leave Brazil eager to watch and listen as these leaders bring policies to life in their communities and beyond.

    Obrigada, Diadema! Eu Vou…

  • PASIÓN HECHA ACCIÓN

    April 25, 2017. Community Impact Coach Daniela writes about experience traveling with CAC to Ecuador to work with partners Futbol Mas

    Passion Made Action

    Mi nombre es Daniela Gutierrez y con una experiencia única, en Perú y Ecuador; agradezco a Coaches Across Continents, que gracias a su programa CIC tuve la oportunidad de vivir 3 semanas inolvidables; donde compartí aprendizajes invaluables junto a cada persona, que me motivan siempre a seguir aprendiendo y compartiendo.

    My name is Daniela Gutierrez and with a unique experience in Perú and Ecuador I am grateful to CAC. Thanks to their CIC program I had the opportunity to live 3 unforgettable weeks where I shared invaluable knowledge with each person, and which motivated me to always continue learning and sharing.

    Ecuador-Guayaquil fue especial; porque vi niños participando de nuestro programa, profes de otras provincias que llegaron con tanta energía y esos deseos de cada uno, por compartir. Me gusto ver como exploraban su talento transformándolo en grandes ideas, creando juegos y dinámicas increíbles, el ultimo día todos y todas estabamos emocionados, agradecidos, orgullosos de seguir en la misma sintonía. Sé que se fueron con ganas de más, de seguir compartiendo en sus comunidades y generando impacto social. Solo sé que el gran equipo de Futbol más Ecuador seguirá contribuyendo en este proceso, generando más oportunidades para todo Ecuador.

    Guayaquil, Ecuador was special because I saw youth participating in our program, teachers from other provinces that arrived with so much energy and the desire from each one to share. I loved to see how they explored their talent, transforming it into great ideas, creating games and incredible activities. On the last day everyone was emotional, grateful, and proud to continue to the same tune. I know that they all left with the urge for more, to continue sharing in their communities and creating social impact. I just know that the great team of Fútbol Más Ecuador will continue contributing to this process, generating more opportunities for all of Ecuador.

    Recuerdo aquel 2014, mi primer año con CAC en Perú; desde entonces soy un agente de cambio social, utilizando como herramientas potentes juego y deporte; creando espacios donde cada vivencia se trasforme en una experiencia significativa. Logrando que las personas seas protagonistas de los cambios en sus comunidades y en sus propias vidas; buscando igualdad de oportunidades para todos y todas (‘todos somos impacto social’).

    I remember in 2014, my first year with CAC in Perú. Since then I have been an agent for social change, using sport and play as powerful tools; creating spaces where every experience is transformed into something significant. Achieving that people are protagonists for change in their communities and in their own lives; searching for equality of opportunities for everyone – ‘we are all social impact’!

    Siento personalmente la necesidad interminable de seguir aprendiendo siempre de los demás, cada persona es un mundo lleno de tanto, involucrándome, teniendo la convicción que no hay límites para seguir aprendiendo y que nunca debo parar. Sueño que en 2020 más y más personas alrededor del mundo, transformen su pasión en acciones que nos permitan construir un mundo mejor.

     I feel personally the unending need to always continue learning from others; that every person is a world full of so much, including me, and having the conviction that there are no limits to learning and that I should never stop. I dream that in 2020 more and more people around the world transform their passion into actions that allow us to build a better world.

     

  • Redescubriéndonos a Través del Juego

    April 20, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Panchi, reflects on week in Antofagasta, Chile with partners Futbol Mas.

    Desde la experiencia que viví como CIC, y participante de los talleres, considero que ambas organizaciones tienen enfoques similares respecto a los procesos de aprendizaje que se pretenden facilitar, como el conocer nuevos escenarios y salir de tu zona de confort favorece el desarrollo de las personas.

    Plantear el aprendizaje desde el descubrimiento, el desafío, proporcionando  un acompañamiento que impulse, intenta promover y animar al participante a valorar la  aventura,  la experiencia, otorgándole  la confianza  en las propias capacidades  para  enfrentar los obstáculos que se presentan en el camino. Lo más importante de todo,  significar los obstáculos y errores como el tesoro  más preciado dentro de la aventura. Hablamos un mismo lenguaje, nos mueven las mismas cosas y aunque suene cliché, creemos en que podemos construir un mundo mejor. Eso permitió que mi experiencia fuera tan enriquecedora, el poder tomar todo lo nuevo para contribuir a lo que nosotros queremos lograr con nuestra intervención, otorgó un profundo sentido a esta invitación.

    Considero que la forma de trabajo de CAC te entrega la oportunidad de  ir  descubriendo como puedes ser un Coach desde las propias habilidades, como uno puede  apropiar la metodología entregada a sus propias formas  y crear desde ese espacio único y personal. Al comienzo estaba constantemente preguntándome  cuál era la forma correcta, como debo hacerlo, cual es la estructura y pasos, ya que pensaba que existía una sola forma  de intervenir. Luego de observar las dinámicas que se daban en las clases, las diversas alternativas y creaciones que los mismos participantes proponían, me enseñaron a mí que las formas en que uno como coach puede llevar una actividad son infinitas y valiosas.

    Los talleres en Antofagasta fueron increíbles, me sorprende que frente a un mismo estímulo, como lo es un juego, la dinámica durante este y el análisis posterior  puede darse de forma  tan diferente entre un grupo y otro, como se desarrolló por ejemplo en Santiago. Desde las variantes que el mismo grupo de participantes propone, hasta las reflexiones y pensamientos que se comparten en el espacio,   se configura una experiencia única que pertenece a ese grupo humano en particular, lo cual considero simplemente maravilloso. El deporte y juego son herramientas realmente profundas y sabias, las cuales a pesar de  estar presentes  diariamente en lo que hacemos en Fútbol Más jamás me dejarán de sorprender, el clima emocional que generan,  el cómo invitan a participar y a sentirnos cómodos con personas que recién estamos conociendo,  darnos el espacio y la valoración de hacer el ridículo, de reír y mirarnos, con la misma libertad con la que los niños lo hacen permiten una mirada mucho más cercana y empática.

    Cada juego tiene un objetivo, un sentido,  algunos el espacio para agregar variantes e invitar a los participantes a crear, permitiendo inmediatamente establecer  una relación horizontal y de coconstrucción entre el Coach y los participantes. Si una variante propuesta no  funciona, esto se toma como una oportunidad para analizar y realizar preguntas  y así construir aprendizajes más profundos. Dentro de la sesión existen algunas preguntas que pueden orientar respecto a donde queremos llegar con esa conversación,  lo cual no  significa que existan respuestas correctas o incorrectas, pero si un espacio en donde facilitemos el cuestionamiento. Me encanta la flexibilidad de las propuestas, su  simpleza y su  profundidad,  donde definitivamente menos es más.

    Para mí, uno de los aprendizajes más trascendentales  durante  la pasantía  como un CIC  fue redescubrir qué es el juego así como su función simbólica y metáforas lo que permiten la toma de conciencia de nuestro comportamiento,  creencias, emociones y acciones que lo subyacen, brindando la posibilidad de profundizar tanto en nuestros procesos internos como en la contingencia, enmarcado dentro de una vivencia emocionalmente positiva y libre de amenazas.

    Muchas veces como adultos y profesionales podemos identificar diferentes temáticas humanas y sociales que consideramos tan importantes de conversar y poner sobre la mesa, tales como la equidad de género, prevención en el área de la salud sexual e  inmigración entre otras cosas. Cómo tutores tenemos la misión de generar  espacios de discusión, de cuestionamiento, de saber  que es lo que piensan e invitarlos a tener una postura consciente y propia  frente a la realidad del contexto, tanto con las niñas y niños con los que trabajamos como con sus comunidades. En  ocasiones no encontramos las formas que inviten a la participación, ante eso nos  sentimos incómodos,  se nos crea una dificultad   para generar un espacio donde las personas se sientan cómodas y  con la confianza de interactuar,  compartir sus pensamientos en un ambiente de respeto por las diferencias de opinión facilitando un espacio de discusión sano. La metodología de aprendizaje auto dirigido nos abre puertas y posibilidades infinitas.

  • Oh The Things To Do In Juarez

    April 18, 2017. Process Consultant Emily Kruger reflects on the week with CAC partner Fundación PDN in Juarez, Mexico.

    Exploring the modern children’s museum, check.
    Exquisite breakfast with Board Members, check!
    Meeting with the local men’s professional club, check!!
    On camera interview, check!!!
    20-minute presentation at the “Impact Hub” in front of a live audience…check?!
    Tasting tequila in the bar where the “margarita” first got its name…check?!?

    Did I mention that we worked with 40 participants, introducing them to CAC’s sport for social impact curriculum and Self-Directed Learning methodology?

    What an incredible whirlwind of a week! Luckily our hosts were logistical wizards, calmly whisking us from place to place with laughter in between. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of these highlights.

    La Rodadora, children’s museum, (let’s be real, this is play time for adults too!) in the center of Juarez, was built in 2004 as a space for families and communities to gather, play, and learn together. I had never thought of a museum as a place CAC would find such similarities, but of course it is: “Education Outside the Classroom”…obviously! A few leaders from the museum attended our training, and they were excited to bring CAC games and Self-Directed Learning into their work with youth and families at the museum.

    FC Bravos is the newest iteration of a men’s professional soccer club in Juarez and so far they have seen huge success in terms of community support. From the get-go, the club has prioritized the community over results. Their primary goal has been to bring something beautiful to Ciudad Juarez, something the city can be proud of and rally behind together. From the Chief Exec to the Marketing Director to the coaching staff and players, the organization is committed to being a staple of the city, not just a professional sports team looking for more money and fame. After having dinner with two representatives from the club, they brought a handful of the players to our “Hub Talk” as they wanted to learn more about CAC and how they might be able to get involved with the teachers and schools who we worked with!

    Which brings me to my final highlight of the week, the Hub Talk. When Fundacion first asked Mark and I to speak at a TED Talk-esque event, we were excited and jumped at the opportunity. Then, as the day drew near, we realized what we had gotten ourselves into and became much more nervous than excited, especially because we thought we might have to deliver it in Spanish! When they assured us that we could speak in English, some of our nerves were calmed but still, neither one of us had ever had an experience quite like that. We spent hours planning what we would say and how we would deliver it so it would not be standard and boring. We agreed that the best way to make it interesting (and make ourselves feel way more comfortable) was to do what we do best, lead an example of a CAC game! In the end, we felt prepared and absolutely loved speaking to the crowd (and the live video feed). What an honor to to be given such a platform to share our stories from CAC! Thanks again to everyone we met in Juarez for showing us such a lovely week!

  • To Lima, to the Coast, to Huachipa!

    April 12, 2017. CAC Process Consultant, Charlie Crawford, writes about CIC Daniela and program in Lima, Peru.

    Arriving in Lima, Peru felt like stepping into both a foreign world and coming home at the same time. While our program would start on Monday, I was able to spend Saturday exploring the latest CAC office and surroundings before meeting up with fellow Coaches Across Continents staff Mark Gabriel, on Sunday. This opportunity led me to a bubble of Peruvian culture expressed along the jagged coastline spotted with public parks. Bike paths, futbol fields, and countless shady palm trees lined the winding cliffs and overlooked the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The highlight of this coddiwomple was stumbling onto the Park of Love, where mosaic tiles, colorful flowers and a massive statue of a loving couple holding each other in their arms helped create an atmosphere of comfort, connection and intimacy all in this beautifully publicly acknowledged space. Families, couples and friends would sleep, relax and spend their sunday in the best possible way here, in this paradise of a setting.

    Every program is different. After working off-field in recent weeks, it was extraordinary to get back on the job with one of our strongest past participants and CIC’s, Daniela Gutierrez. Daniela has had consistent experience with CAC in past Peruvian programs which made working with her directly an obvious step. Currently working with Liga de Futbol Feminino e Integracion Social, Daniela used some of  her connections to local schools and Sport for Social Impact individuals to organize a training in the neighborhood of Huachipa. This is an area no small distance away from central Lima. Through travels so far, I’ve found that many inhabitants of big cities tend to claim the ‘world’s craziest traffic’ title. While it’s my thought that no one has enough experience to empirically determine this, I’d be willing to consider Lima as a possibility.  Public transportation is built around these monumental highways sunk into the hills and valleys of the cityscape. Within these highways are designated lanes for public buses and it was partially through these buses that we would travel to our venue every day (often with multiple taxis included in each direction of the trip).  The training itself centered around a local school in Huachipa and the mothers of the students. Clearly new to the idea of Sport for Social Impact, we were able to introduce these parents to using sport in a way to address Gender Equity, Conflict Prevention and a number of other topics in our time together.

    Mark & I met and began working together less than a year ago with CAC in Cambodia. In the months since, we have coached together and played in half a dozen countries. Starting this next stretch with him couldn’t have gotten off to a better start and working with our new partner, Futbol Mas, in the coming weeks only makes me more excited. Let’s go Lima!