New Country, New Experiences, Big Impact
February 28, 2014. It is safe to say that our coaches experienced a true CAC first upon their arrival at their weeklong home on the Yucatán Peninsula. After two flights and a quick 14-hour layover in between, staff members Nora Dooley and Sophie Legros alongside volunteer and all-star translator Tomas Torres-Tarver of the One World Futbol family, arrived safely in Mérida, albeit exhausted, excited, and a bit delirious. Our gracious hosts, FEYAC (Fundación del Empresariado Yucateco A.C.), gathered us from the airport late at night and brought us to our temporary oasis… and when I say oasis, I mean… oasis. Eyes watering from laughing so hard, our coaches could do little else as they soaked in the reality of living directly on a beach, in a gorgeous house with more space than our two seasoned staff knew what to do with. Suffice it to say we are not used to such luxury, but when it comes our way we certainly are not shy in seizing the moment.
Other than the VIP accommodation, this week in Mérida stands as our first program in Mexico, and this group of coaches definitely delivered. A band of about 50 men and women from all over the Yucatán state, these participants proved each and every day how much they not only care about the children in their care as teachers and coaches, but also how passionate they are about finding innovative ways to educate. They unequivocally latched on to the social messages of every game we played with them, making our jobs incredibly easy, fun, and rewarding.
As we do with all programs, in all cultural contexts, in so many communities around the world, we asked this group about the social issues most relevant to their society, to their culture, to the people, young and old, that they encounter in their everyday lives. The feedback we received was integral in planning the training schedule, as our priority is always to give our participants exactly what they ask for as we help them on the path to self-directed learning.
The collective voice of this assembly of coaches emphasized the reality of bullying and discrimination facing children throughout the communities they live and work in. In response to this we played a game called Lupita Against Bullying. We named this game after a participant in this training who has been playing for the Mexican Women’s National Team for 15 years – Lupita Worbis – a true role model who cares deeply about community development and using her celebrity to pay it forward.
In this game there are players who represent different forms of bullying such as insults or violence. These players must chase the others around the grid – which represents their community – and try to tag them. If they tag them they yell out what type of bullying they represent and the player they tag must crouch down on the ground, making it clear that they have been caught. Once all the players are tagged we play the game again, but this time we introduce a way for the tagged players to be freed. This can happen when a free player approaches a crouching, frozen player and empowers them with a complement, raising them back up and giving them the power to run once more. Following this game was a great discussion about how we can combat the issue of bullying, addressing specific circumstances raised by some of the participants as well as in a more general context.
This dynamic and fruitful week of training left our CAC team in high spirits. Yes, the beach house played a slight factor, but even more inspiring was the passion exuded by the participants and members of the FEYAC team day in and day out. To say we are excited about the future of this partnership is an understatement, but when I say our staff will be fighting over running this program in the coming years… I’m talking rumpus!
Thank you FEYAC and all the coaches and teachers for the incredible welcome, hospitality, energy and commitment to social impact – ¡Muchas gracias!