I am going to be upfront, today was brutal. There were several jobs I worked on throughout our group's assigned working hours. These jobs ranged from mixing concrete to dislodging nails from pieces of wood, and by the end of the day I was downright exhausted. However, an hour before our work day ended, several students, me being one of them, found a soccer ball and began a game of keep away. Several minutes later, an enthusiastic Nicaraguan child approached us and asked if he could join our game. We agreed, and split the teams accordingly. Following his approach, several other Nicaraguan children approached and asked if they could join. Before we knew it, we had a structured game of soccer taking place. Although the game was small, with only five or six individuals on each team, it was both meaningful and powerful.
While I was playing, I saw something incredible. I saw our group, an English speaking group of individuals, communicating with a group of Nicaraguan children, a Spanish speaking group of individuals, not through language, but through the game of soccer. All players, whether American or Nicaraguan were collaborating and laughing in unison as we kicked a ball around a sand pit littered with tree roots, and covered in dust. Yet, it wasn't about where we were playing, it wasn't about us and it wasn't about them, but it was about the game of soccer and the ability for it to connect two vastly different kinds of people into one unified team. When I sat down and pondered this short game of soccer, I realized that I wasn't indirectly helping a group of future patients by participating in the construction process of a new building at the clinic of NuevaVida, but I was helping build a direct connection to the players on both my team and the opposing team and that truly had a profound impact on me.