• Having No Plan, Is Planning

    August 2, 2017. Global Citizen Nicole writes about her experience coaching and camping in Zimbabwe as CAC worked with World Parks, World Cup.

    In South Africa, a common phrase you hear is, “We’ll make a plan”. Typically meaning the current situation isn’t going as originally planned and there is no clear solution at the moment. In the States, it’s relatable to creating a “plan B” or trying our very best to “go with the flow”.

    The saying makes me laugh every time I hear it and I hope that I continue to use it when I get home. It makes everything seem OK and less urgent or threatening. In the grand scheme of things, that is true, things will probably work out.

    Our trip to Zimbabwe from Bennde-Mutale, South Africa was definitely one of these situations. While it only takes about 3 hours to walk from SA to the village we were staying in Zim, it was an 8 to 9 hour journey by car, inclusive of a large dried up river bed where your tires easily get stuck in the sand, intense border patrol on both sides & bumpy unmarked roads where the memory of various trees – that all look identical to me – were our compass. Yet, it was never of any concern, we were in good hands with World Parks, World Cup – and well, we made a plan.

    We arrived in Chishinya, Zimbabwe a little before dark, where the Moyo family welcomed us after our long journey. Chishinya isn’t on any map, at least that I’ve seen. And I wasn’t originally expecting to go to Zimbabwe when volunteering – or to be sleeping in a tent, camping under the Milky Way, building a fire each night to cook and stay warm, serving as a space to discuss religion, politics, relationships and all of the joys of life with my travel companions and the Moyo’s.

    In the end, Zim was one of the more rewarding weeks of my time volunteering with CAC. It had the perfect mix of the “expected” pieces of the program – coaching, connecting with people and fun with the kid’s. With the unexpected elements of magic that come along with a true adventure. I live for a good adventure! We experienced elements of life in Zim that we otherwise wouldn’t have.

    Mr. Moyo and his family were special; they were kind to us, naturally warm and loving, treating us like family from the moment we arrived. It’s a comfort you feel around certain people, an aura or energy they exude that can’t be faked. They were happy, loving people who opened their homes, for which I will be forever grateful.

    One of my favorite memories is the hat that Mr. Moyo wore every day with “Nicole” stitched into the front. Maybe it was fate that we were to meet. And as he said when we hugged goodbye, “we will all meet one day in heaven”. Whether heaven exists for you, it’s a nice thought and the most realistic setting for our next meeting.

    It is hard to say goodbye to people after you have become part of their everyday lives, even for only a week. And more so when knowing you won’t be following their Instagram account or sending iMessage photos of your daily life to them. It is unlikely that your worlds will cross again. Regardless, you still hope that they do and the reality is that you will think of them often for some time.

    Most importantly, it felt that we made lasting connections in Zimbabwe, with coaches, teachers and community leaders who were engaged in the games & the social messages that were pertinent to their communities. The beauty of the CAC program is the focus on sustainability, providing the participants with the skills and resources to teach and adapt the games as needed in their local environment.

    I look forward to checking back in on the programs that I volunteered with to see if the same people are involved and the progress that has been made over the next year. The work of CAC is powerful – both in the vision and execution. I am very proud of the time I spent volunteering and of the valuable things I learned. I have the utmost respect for those working in social impact. Thank you for letting me be a small piece of the team for a few weeks – I hope to be involved again soon!

  • Conservation and Education

    July 21, 2017. CAC Global Citizen Nicole Slevin wrote about our first year with World Parks, World Cup in Bende-Mutale, South Africa.

    This week we partnered with World Parks, World Cup in Bende-Mutale located in the far NE corner of South Africa, bordering Zimbabwe & Mozambique. WPWC’s goal is to bring together the communities that surround the Great Limpopo National Park, in these neighboring countries, establishing open communication and support with groups that might not otherwise connect. They have the opportunity to build and share resources, with the Coaches Across Continents curriculum as a common link, between the coaches, teachers, community leaders and the children in these villages. It is a great vision and we were excited to be involved from the beginning!

    This was my first week being a Global Citizen with CAC, and my first week ever visiting South Africa! No one could have promised me or prepared me for such a rich experience. I don’t think I have ever learned so much in such a short window of time. Every day is filled with new learning opportunities, genuine unique human interactions, and little moments of gratitude and magic. Along with the beauty of the sunsets, the vastness of the trees in the bush & the varying animals that keep you company at night. It’s hard not to fall in love with South Africa and the remarkable experience of working with CAC. 

    I quickly learned this is a complex program, coaching in and of itself is hard! Being a good and effective coach takes practice and clear intentions. CAC’s curriculum does so much, by providing Self-Directed Learning techniques to the coaches, so that when the program is over the lessons and social impact topics still continue being discussed. It’s a mixture of teaching effective coaching practices, dependable football skills, setting up an environment for social impact discussions, and providing guidance on how coaches and leaders can use these in their own environments. With a few daily life lessons to go along in that mix. It’s a lot! But I’ll say it again  – I’ve never learned so much in just one week. 

    There were many memorable moments during the week – of course, watching the games implemented with kids running around barefoot and happy. I could be a part of that everyday! But there were also many moments with the coaches in the program, when good discussions were had after a game or when they provided positive feedback that the program was going to help change how they coached or taught at the schools. They were extremely grateful and without asking, it was clear that we had made a difference. That’s a feeling I want to always remember.  I felt lucky to work with such amazing, engaged people. 

    Elvis, the CIC traveling with us from the Democratic Republic of Congo said tonight – “I didn’t know what good volunteering could do for me, until I worked with CAC. Then I realized that doing something for someone else, without expecting something in return – it can bring peace, even in the mind.” 

    As we drive away in the early morning, headed to Zimbabwe, Charlie plays Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to say goodbye”.  And we can leave smiling, knowing we did good work with the people of WPWC in Bende-Mutale.