NCAA Guest Blogger
Seeing as my counterpart produced a great many more blogs than I have, I feel more than obliged to give my final remarks about my experience in Taiwan. I had way more faith in using my iphone to complete all my blogs; however, I realized how hard that task actually was. Now that I am home, I am going to share the rest of my experiences at the ease of my HP.
The rest of the forum days went incredibly well. Our groups discussed the meanings of true leadership and how we can implement more youth into leadership roles. I find it so fascinating how all of us come from such different backgrounds, but we share such strong faith in our generation being able to change our countries’ agendas. After our final workshop, I felt at ease knowing that the United States is not the only country interested in promoting sport values in our youth.
My favorite day, by far, was Friday–the actual Forum Fair. We traveled to a local sport university and had the opportunity to try two new sports: badminton and archery. I practiced archery, but I didn’t have the nerve to shoot at the target.
I think pride is my American downfall, and seeing Travis excel at it made me not even want to give it a try. So to better my mood, I had to go play Travis in basketball, knowing very well I would win.
And, yes, I won.
After he and I played, we ventured on our own. He went to play soccer and I went to play basketball with the different countries. I think my favorite part of this experience was seeing each individual’s sportsmanship.
I played on the opposing team from my two friends from Italy and Spain, and anytime I made a shot or a nice pass they came up and complemented me. I was so shocked by everyone’s positive attitudes. Very rarely do I see friendly and fun pick-up basketball games. Every game I’ve played in, from pick-up to conference play, has been like playing in the NCAA National Championship—competitive to the core.
It was so refreshing to play and actually just have fun; to laugh at myself for a mistake, and applauding an opponent for making an awesome move against me. I think we need more of those games in the states.
After playing some sports, every country set up booths and we had the opportunity to walk around and learn more about each individual country (picture the set up of a college fair.) I received so much literature on each country; learning about their culture, economy, and natural/ man-made landmarks.
At the end of the fair, each country had the opportunity to showcase some type of cultural event. Clearly, Travis and I kept off the stage, although I was tempted to teach them how to Dougie.
Costa Rica taught us how to Salsa and the Oceania tribe taught us a ritual dance (which scared the living day lights out of me-they made Travis look like a punk, and I would place money on any one of those guys in a fight!) My wonderful roommate, Maruia, from the Cook Islands taught me how to dance and she let me wear her traditional skirt around for the rest of the night.
The final day of our trip to Taiwan proved just as remarkable. We embarked on a cultural trip in the morning to the Pavilion of Dreams, an engineered artistic journey into the life of a flower. It was so serine, yet you could marvel at the high level of technology required to create such a wonderful setting.
We then headed back to our hotel, got ready, and headed out for the Farewell Dinner—where we learned that Travis was selected to present at the FISU games in Russia! (So happy for you, buddy!)
We enjoyed our last dinner, or as they called it, party with all of the countries. It was sad to say goodbye on Sunday, but I was so anxious to get back to the states to tell everyone of this amazing experience.
I truly cannot thank everyone enough for the opportunity to experience Taiwan and meet all of the other participating countries. Lori and Delise are fabulous, and I wish them the best. Along with the NCAA, NAIA, and all other participating organizations, they have given something to me that cannot really be described in words.
I have made lifelong friends, friends who I know I can call when I travel to Italy, London, Spain, Korea, South Africa, the Cook Islands, and of course, Taiwan. As I said before, one of the most beautiful experiences of my life was seeing every country come together to share their own experiences and life values.
I didn’t think about war.
I didn’t think about economic crisis.
I didn’t think about racism.
I didn’t think about all of the problems each country has currently or had in the past.
All I could see was optimism and excitement for our generation, as we all come together to lead the way of humanistic reform in each of our countries.
So, what did I learn? What is the main lesson I took away from this conference?
Leadership is not just a platform for sustainability. Leadership is a platform for global connectedness.
Sports are the common thread that links us all together, but the variation of our all our experiences, that is what makes us unique.