Now that I’m back in Corvallis I can truly say that my BWOB experience in Ethiopia was the trip of a life time. After hearing about other people’s BWOB trips I had high expectations going in, but they were exceeded in every way possible. The entire trip was incredibly special but some of my favourite memories include visiting the health clinic, the community welcome on the first day, the soccer game, the shoe distribution, breaking gender stereotypes by working on the house, playing with the children and bonding with the team. One thing that struck with me that I haven’t talked about yet is the universality of the smile. I’ve discovered that simple gesture can communicate so much. I’m going to make an effort to smile more often at the people, those I know and those I don’t, that I pass.
I’m happy that we took a lot of photos and its been fun seeing everyone’s Ethiopia albums on Facebook. We aren’t back on Oregon time yet as we all seem to be on Facebook in the middle of the night somewhere between 1 and 4 am! Tonight I need to force myself to stay awake till 10 so I can hopefully sleep through the night. I’m sitting in Starbucks writing this blog but the coffee just isn’t the same. Its making me wish I was still in Ethiopia, sitting with BWOB team and sipping my mid-morning macchiato.
The BWOB motto, “To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.” describes what we did. We went across the world and changed as people (I think that classifies as far), and became a family (I miss everyone already). To current or former OSU student athletes reading this blog, I urge you to join a BWOB trip! The fundraising wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated and was worth every penny. And if you have the means to do so, please help support this program.
A trip of this magnitude requires a lot of communication and teamwork to organize and implement. As a result, there are a lot of people I’d like to thank. I’d like to acknowledge Taylor Kavanaugh for all the work he put into getting this trip off the ground and his inspiration to start BWOB, Marianne Vydra for helping with organization and always putting student athletes as people first, the Oregon State athletic department for supporting BWOB, Holt International for without their partnership this trip would definitely not be possible (in particular Sara Halfman, our trip leader who’s experience in Africa was invaluable and Larry Carter ‘The Voice’ and Tesfaye Belachew), Patrick Campbell and Rory Robinson for their commitment to Ethiopia, the Oregon State Honors College for the funding I received through the Honors Experience Fund that made it possible for me to go on this trip, Marta Lawrence from the NCAA blog for dealing with an excessive amount of emails from me, Jason Amberg for setting up this blogging opportunity, my parents for supporting my decision to travel across the world and always being there for me, my coaches and trainer for encouraging me to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity, the people of Ethiopia, in particular those of Silte, for their welcome, hospitality and changing my perspective, and last but not least the other 12 amazing student athletes who took the risk to join the trip to Ethiopia with whom I now share some of my best memories.
THANK YOU EVERYONE! and of course, GO BEAVS!