• Shared Enjoyment of the Human Experience

    CAC volunteer Bobby Zolper writes about hospitality in Manizales, Colombia with Colombianitos.

    May 27th 2016. As a first time volunteer with CAC I have found the connections made between ourselves and the people of the partner programs to be profound and quickly formed. On-Field connections with participants transcend the language barrier through the universal language of football. Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or social status, people all over the world can relate to a shared love for the beautiful game. This is a phenomenon I have experienced before and was happy to experience once again in Manizales, Colombia. Although I expected to bond with the members of Colombianitos, the organization we worked with in Manizales, I never expected equal connections to carry over to the host family, whom we would stay with for only a week.

    Our team, consisting of myself, two other volunteers (Cameron and Taylor), a Community Impact Coach from Peru (Pedro), and two full-time CAC staff members (Markus and Ruben), was lodged in a flat directly above our host family. Below us lived Jimena, her husband, a taxi driver named Miguel and her two sons Rafael and Nicolas. We spent most of our down time with the family finding out about each others life in a different country as effectively as our language abilities allowed us to. Most of these questions provided little insight into the lives of one another but rather gave a sense of each others personality and made for enjoyable and incredibly funny conversations. The strongest bond I formed within their family was with 10 year old Nico. Nico shared the same love for the computer game FIFA as I do and, considering my Spanish ability, was the person I was able to communicate best with! Nico loved to play football and was quite the player too. He also emulated his idol, Colombian superstar James Rodriguez. Nico was quick to extend an invitation to play with him and I enjoyed his company as much as he did ours.

    After a week with the family, we departed for Medellin. Shortly thereafter, we received a phone call from Jimena who had come home to her son crying from missing us being there. This was a touching thing for us to hear and I had not realized how much we had meant to Nico. We had left him with t-shirts from our respective universities and he had left us with a lesson to learn from. If the world was filled with people as genuine and as willing to accept a stranger as a friend as Nico was, we would all live in a much better place. If all people were to connect based upon the shared enjoyment of the human experience the same way we connect over the love of football, CAC would have a lot less work to do! The members of our team thank Jimena and her family for the incredible hospitality and I hope they know they will never be forgotten.