Tristan here, I suppose it is fitting that I write the last blog post. Ill go over the day and see if I can put into words my feelings about the trip, now that it is almost over.
Today was our last bit of volunteering for this trip. We woke up at 7, had breakfast, and headed to the city around 8am. It was just like the previous couple days, except a couple of changes. Today was a Saturday, so we were not going to do normal volunteering at the project. Today we worked with the Futbol club, one of many different Saturday clubs that Safe Passage offers for their students. So instead of taking the van into the city, we drove into the city on a chicken bus that Safe Passage had rented so that we could pick up the students who were part of the Futbol club. We got to the project and before the bus had even stopped kids were surrounding the bus waiting to get on. They could not wait to go to the park and start playing.
After we picked the kids up from the project we drove to a local city park, parque democracia. It was huge! The park had a small stadium, basketball courts, baseball fields, a track, and lots and lots of soccer fields. We parked the bus, got off, and walked to the far end of the park where we would be playing. The kids immediately were grabbing the frisbees we had brought and were throwing them around as we walked.
Circling up to teach some Ultimate
We got to the field we were playing at and circled up. The sports teachers introduced us and we reviewed the basic throwing and catching that we had been teaching all week. We had already taught a lot of the kids earlier in the week during sports classes so we just did a quick review. Some of the other kids were ones we had helped out in English class with, so it was great to get to connect with some of the same kids again! We had a blast, and now with more space, kids started throwing longer and running around more. After 2 days of learning to throw some of the kids were already throwing thirty yard flicks, it was amazing!
At this point some of the mothers of the children at the project showed up. A long term volunteer, Hannah, has started a running club with some of the mothers at Safe Passage and they came to play some frisbee after their morning run! To read more about the running club check out the Safe Passage blog post http://www.safepassage.org/node/5903 . It was great to see some of the mothers laughing and throwing the frisbee!
The kids doing a little go to drill
Nate skying me... and some children
After the throwing we gathered the kids around and I started to explain how the sport of Ultimate Frisbee was played. I introduced the concept of spirit of the game, and tried to explain to the kids how they didn't need a referee to control the game. With this being the first time they had ever had the game explained to them I tried to keep it simple. We made a small field with cones and after a small demonstration from the gringos, us, we split the kids into teams and started to play. The boys played first and it was a bit chaotic. The boys did not understand the concept of cutting much and the game slowly turned into a big game of 500. It was great to see the kids getting excited about the game and actually throwing and catching in real game situations. There were a couple points where they realized that short passes were easier to throw and catch and there was some pretty good disc movement which was fun to see. After the boys finished playing the girls got to play. There were fewer girls and they were a little older then the boys, this led to a much more structured game that was great to see! In both games it was awesome to see the kids running, jumping, and diving after the frisbees. It wasn't the prettiest Ultimate Frisbee, but it was fun Ultimate Frisbee, and that was all we could ask.
Las chicas jugando frisbee
A little before noon the sports club finished so we headed back to the bus. It was great hearing the kids talking about frisbee, and every kid that I asked said that they really enjoyed playing. The sports teachers also seemed to enjoy the sport, so hopefully frisbee becomes a mainstay in the Safe Passage sports classes!
With sports club over, we headed back to Antigua to spend our last afternoon in Guatemala. We got back to the hotel, quickly changed, and then headed out to lunch. I took the group to a small hole in the wall place called Rony´s Tacos that had been my favorite place to eat last time I was in Guatemala. It was still there and just as good as I remembered it. After lunch we headed to the market to buy our last souvenirs.
Walking back to the bus
As the trip wraps up I have mixed emotions. I am very happy that we had a fun, great, safe time at Safe Passage but I'm sad to be leaving. It was great to volunteer again with the kids, see familiar faces, and see kids get excited about Ultimate Frisbee. I hope that we have started something that will last more than just our week at the project, hopefully the sports classes at Safe Passage will now teach Ultimate Frisbee from time to time. We left a donation of frisbees for the project and it seemed like the sports teachers really enjoyed it so I am optimistic. I am also very happy that I was able to share the place that I am continually amazed by, Safe Passage, with my fellow UNC frisbee players. I hope that they go home a tell there friends and family about Safe Passage and the work they did here and find some way to continue supporting Safe Passage. Spreading the word about this incredible project helps!
All in all, this has been a great trip and it has been a pleasure to lead. I couldn't have asked for a better group, they were open to everything, flexible when things changed, and continually excited to work with the kids!
Adios y gracias,