Realizing Your Vision
Six years ago today I had an experience that I have come to recognize as the most defining moment of my young life and the spark that led to Ray United FC. As I have stated over and over again, the opportunity to engage with rural Ugandan kids on the soccer field redefined my world view. But how did this change in perspective actually happen? I was only 10 years old at the time. As a fifth grader who was more concerned with candy and running around on the playground, how could a simple game of soccer have resulted in such a clear vision of global citizenship? Well, of course in reality it wasn’t so simple or clear. To be honest, at the end of that first trip I was eager to go home to clean water and fast WIFI, as well as a bit confused about what I had experienced over the previous week. It was a struggle for me to reflect on my experience in any meaningful way when I returned home. I didn’t quite know what to say when people asked me what I thought of Uganda or the people I met there. What more could be expected of a kid my age?
I was dangerously close to squandering a moment that I now view as character defining. My lack of reflection was hindering my ability to appreciate the significance of what I had experienced and consequently, the chance to advocate for the community I had met. As luck would have it, my school district was hosting a public speaking competition among elementary school students in which the prize was the opportunity to give a TEDx speech at our local high school. The prompt was to talk about an idea to change the world.
Having just got back the week before it seemed there really was nothing else to talk about than my experience in Uganda. But what was my idea? How could I change that huge world that I had just experienced a tiny slice of? Vague ideas about the power of soccer and humanity formulated themselves into real truths in my mind during the process of writing that speech. When I finally got on the stage, I no longer felt like just another little boy, I suddenly felt like I was a little boy with an important story (and lesson) to share.
The past 6 years with RUFC have been an effort to realize the vision I developed on the field that day. However, is wasn’t simply the game that was important in the development of my thoughts. Instead, being forced to reflect, write, and communicate with others was critical in developing that vision in the first place. I believe that this is true for most our ‘life changing’ experiences; communication is necessary for the spread of ideas and essential in developing one’s own thoughts.
In my case, the process of communication empowered me to recognize a significant event that changed the way I saw the world. Moreover, that recognition served as the platform for me to take action and advocate for change. I would advise all of you readers to venture out and communicate your thoughts. Regardless of how half-baked or cluttered they might seem, from my experience simply vocalizing your thought process can leave you with a greater understanding of your situation than before. With that being said, if anyone reading has any commentary to share about global health or shared problems around the world, we would love to have you guest blog on our website. My goal is to curate a blog in which we can all come to a greater understanding about the world and ourselves.