• What Is CAC?

    May 11th 2016. CAC’s long serving volunteer CJ Fritz wrote about his full experience with the organization on 4 continents!

    Full disclosure, what you are reading is my sixth draft of this blog. After seven incredible months of working with CAC, when our program in Diadema ended, so did my volunteer trip with this incredible organization.

    I asked a few weeks ago to reserve the chance to write this blog because it would be my last. I thought it would be a breeze, a little heartfelt note to CAC that would take no less than an hour to write.

    Now after trying 6 times and spending far too long staring at a blank document, I realize how difficult describing CAC is. CAC is ever shifting and adapting, so getting a line on it and pinning it down would be near impossible.

    Seven months ago, I was nervous — terrified, really — about what I had gotten myself into. I arrived in Indonesia in late August for my first program not knowing what was coming and seriously doubting every decision I had made in choosing to take such a crazy journey.

    Now, in early April, I’m nervous –terrified, really — that nothing can possibly live up to working with CAC.

    So what is this organization that had such an enormous impact on me? What is CAC? There is no one answer:

    CAC is sleeping on plastic mattresses on the floor of a building with no running water and more power outages than chickens in the yard.

    CAC is having one of only two women in a program give you hope for change when she speaks up in front of 60 men about respecting women.

    CAC is having to leave a country before you realized that you had really arrived, on to the next program. It is rickety buses, fantastic stories, questionable bedspreads, big breakthroughs, optimism and definitely some disagreements.

    CAC is coming to a community and asking what problems the participants want to solve instead of telling them what to solve.

    CAC is the process of giving useful tools and then getting out of the way: letting a community use all or none of what we present and trying not to impose.

    It is confronting huge issues head-on, long travel days (understatement), celebrating the little wins and bonding with inspiring people around the world.

    Without CAC, I never would have experienced the pure energy Haitian Initiative coaches could introduce to a training session, or the complexity into which the Inder coaches in Medellin would delve into the issue of child abuse, or the bright smiles and positivity we would see from coaches in Iringa, Tanzania.

    Most importantly to me, CAC is a chance, an opportunity. It is an opportunity to work toward something great with like minded people. It is the chance to challenge your own beliefs and to question everything.

    CAC is the opportunity to change just one life, and as long as there is that chance, this work will always be worth doing.
     
    Thank you to my CAC family and all of the incredible people I had the pleasure of working with around the world; you have all inspired me.
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  • Being An Ally

    February 5th 2016. Long-term volunteer, CJ Fritz, writes on his experience in Léogâne with four-year partner GOALS Haiti. 

    Last week in Leogane, Haiti, I helped run an ASK For Choice program for the first time. ASK For Choice is a CAC program dedicated to gender equity, and involves discussing the problem of gender inequity with groups of only women as well as mixed groups.

    Heading to our Monday morning session with only the female participants I was nervous. When we got to the field I was pacing back and forth, trying to figure out how to go about coaching in this completely new scenario. As a male coach, how do I speak with a group of female coaches about gender equity? How can I pretend to understand the position that they are coming from? Would it be better if Nora and Emily just ran this session, and I sat out?

    As I busied myself fretting about how to handle the situation I realized something; this isn’t about trying to be on the same team, it’s about trying to be an ally. We don’t need to share the same starting point if we are both aiming for the same finishing point.

    As the week progressed I began to think more and more about why I want to be an ally.

    I have a younger sister who entered high school back in September. She is intelligent, active, is incredibly funny and excels especially in keeping her older brothers’ egos in check.

    I choose to be an ally because of her. It scares me to think that she might be told not to play the sport that she loves because sports are for boys. It scares me that she could make only 70 cents to every dollar that a man with the same job makes. And it scares me that she could be pressured into not doing the things that she loves to do because they aren’t “things that women should do.”

    But what scares me more than anything is that there are millions of girls and women living in countries with far more inequity who deserve the same chance to achieve that which the boys and men around them are afforded.

    As the week progressed, we heard some fantastic and inspiring things from the women with whom we were working. They were motivated and prepared to fight incredibly hard for their rights.

    The women in the group gave me hope for change in Leogane, but we didn’t get the same fierce support of equity from the men in the group. It is a great start to have such a motivated group of women who are ready for change, but they can’t go it alone.

    In congress, bills don’t become laws without people willing to work across party lines. Two improvising actors have to work together to make a scene flow. Men and women have to work together to bring us closer to gender equity.

    By the end of the week, we began seeing some signs of progress. The men in the group seemed less defensive than they had at first, and the group began to come up with some ways they can start making change in the present.

    If there is a rock you want moved and two people tie ropes around it and pull in opposite directions, no matter how hard either person pulls, or how badly they want the rock to move, it will not budge. It’s up to us to decide; are we going to pull in the same direction, or do we want to play tug-of-war forever?

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  • A Unique Opportunity for Local Sustainability

    February 3rd 2016. Second-time volunteer, Marissa Segala, writes about our second week in Port-au-Prince with the Haitian Initiative (HI). 

    My second year in the dirt with CAC was equally sunny, warm and enthusing as the first. This time, we spent the first two weeks in city center Cite Soleil working with our third year partner program called The Haitian Initiative. The CAC model involves closely teaching local partners for three years and then allowing the community to take each program as their own; in accordance with the wants and needs of a community with which they are familiar. After an intimate first week with only the Haitian Initiative (HI) and other returning coaches, CAC was given the opportunity to observe as the HI hosted their very own week long clinic working with about 100 coaches from several surrounding community programs.

    It was a thrilling experience to watch the HI coaches as they took the learning, adaptations and creations to the pitch with their own pointed agenda. The CAC skills remained, but the interactive teaching and playing was uniquely HI. One of the coaches was quoted with confidence halfway through the week saying, “We’re so excited, because it really feels like we can do the work just as well as you [CAC coaches]” This may not sound like a compliment, but this is exactly what CAC loves to hear. Confusing, I know. Who wants to be told that someone else can do your job as well or possibly even better than you? Upon further reflection, I realized the underlying implications of this comment.

    The purpose of a CAC coach is not to be the best one on the pitch or the most knowledgeable relative to those around you, but it is to help create and foster an environment that promotes the growth and development of a multitude of great coaches and thinkers. The HI coaches demonstrated clear command of their own specific agenda, and they executed it flawlessly. It only makes sense that a program could run more smoothly when run by locals who understand the culture, language, people and the issues on a much more intricate level than any visitor could attempt.

    The CAC model has been executed perfectly by the CAC staff. They are able to provide an opportunity for coaches to engage with and showcase their skills. It indicates a special kind of success that is far more rewarding and complimentary of not just CAC, but all parties involved. I look forward to continuing to work for CAC as well as staying involved with the growth and success of the Haitian Initiative over the next several years. Until next time.

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  • What Does Your Puzzle Look Like?

    January 25th 2016. CAC Volunteer Emily Kruger, goalkeeper for the NWSL Portland Thorns, blogs about our first On-Field Training of 2016 with the Haitian Initiative in Port-au-Prince. 

    CJ explained the second game of day one in Port-au-Prince to the group of 45 Haitian coaches who are in their third year with CAC. He asked them to get into groups of three and spread out around the field, well, actually Denni our incredible translator asked them. As a first timer, I was just participating in the game myself. I got with two others but as I looked around, I saw some pairs standing together. I thought to myself, “how do we solve this problem?” I decided that I could abstain and my two friends could each join a pair. So with few words and lots of gesturing, I made the groups of three happen. I looked to see if Nora, our lead CAC coach, noticed what I’d done, wondering if she would take note of what a good problem solver I was i.e. good coach, right?! Then, during this game of tag where the chase-ee can save themselves by stopping at the side of any trio thereby sending the opposite-outside player of the three to become the chase-ee, the chaser had been chasing all these rotating chase-ees for a long time. It was so hot and I felt for her so I thought to myself again, “how can we (I) solve this problem?” On an impulse I ran towards her to relieve her of her duty, when CJ stopped the activity (I awkwardly just kept running like I was minding my own business). He asked the group, “does anyone see a problem?” Through Denni, the coaches explained that yes, she had been running forever. He then asked, “what can we as coaches do to fix it?” One coach suggested switching her out, as I had thought, and another coach offered adding another chaser to help her. And then it struck me, CAC is all about Self-Directed Learning…being a good coach means supporting others as they create their own solutions, not telling them what you think the solution is. Woah! It was staring me in the face. This was an awesome moment to say the least, and it kept me thinking for the rest of the day.

    We are so wired to tell others what to do and to do what others tell us to do, as well. Parents, teachers, politicians, bosses, coaches, the media…it is rare that we are encouraged to think for ourselves, to be creative, to challenge all of the spoon-fed ideas. And isn’t that the root of so many of our problems: mass groupthink and brainwashing so that we struggle to break the mold? Or maybe it’s human nature to obey, to try to fit the mold. I don’t know. However, I do believe that Self-Directed Learning is one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle! For me, the puzzle is the creation of more just and more equal societies where unnecessary human excess and unnecessary human suffering are not commonplace. Hmmm. What does your puzzle look like? And what do you think some solutions could be?

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  • CAC Team Prepares for 2016

    January 13th, 2016.  Coaches Across Continents is a global office. With most of us typically in different time zones, our opportunities for in-person staff meetings are few and far between. Because of that, this past week’s second staff Zenith, affectionately dubbed Z-Dos, was an incredible opportunity to do some much needed bonding and bring everyone up to speed on how CAC is stepping into 2016.

    In 2015 we worked in 29 countries with 89 implementing partners. From these partnerships we educated and certified 3,842 community coaches, directly impacting 388,576 children in 29 countries around the world. Impact numbers are important but for new staff member Charlie Crawford the strongest impression of joining a worthwhile organization came from the hours spent discussing the model CAC use to promote Self-Directed Learners. The approach is philosophical. The practicality has been tested. After a year of being on the field, our 15 staff came together with what they had discovered and shared their successes and challenges.

    As we go forward, our partnerships with local programs bring year-round organizational development that help empower communities to question harmful traditional, cultural, and religious practices. Creating a safe space for these discussions is how we believe real change will come. As we write, CAC has a team in Haiti and 2 more heading to Mexico and Kenya. Looks like it’s back to the global office.

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