We have talked about Ultimate Peace for a year. We have requested donations, reached out at tournaments, organized complex travel plans, and shared with many people the importance of this work. We flew long, unusual paths to get here and have spent many hours informing and preparing ourselves for some 165 Middle Eastern kids who arrive today.
Are we ready?
I live an easy life. I enjoy freedom, privilege, food – lots of food – manageable work, plenty of play. I live in a country that thinks “conflict” means an argument over which news station tells the truth. My “challenges” are selecting low-carb meals or better traffic routes to my job. What is “difficult” for me is finding time to exercise, to play guitar, to read.
Am I ready?
The context of our effort here remains, despite moderate attempts I’ve made to learn, a mystery to me. I will soon meet seven boys who will stare at my fellow coaches and I for seven days. They have backgrounds, experiences, differences, similarities, and expressions. They speak multiple languages, yet will struggle to comprehend me in the only tongue I have. They exist daily in an environment I hope to understand, one with which I shall never be able to empathize. As a teacher, empathy is a powerful tool, but it’s not in my tool belt here.
So…Am I ready? Incredibly, yes.
I do not know everything I will do, nor do I know all that will transpire. I know I will make several mistakes. I know I will confuse many a kid – baffle them with poor word choice or clumsy demonstration. I will fail sometimes.
But…I will try. I will always try…try to bring the best, try to understand them as clearly as I am able, try to educate, and try to learn. No kid I encounter will receive an undersized portion of me. What each camper can count on is every ounce of joy, hope, skill, friendliness I have. Any kid who comes near me is in danger of having to hear my loud voice, suffer my song, and endure my embrace.
I’m ready because my supporters back home and I have been psyched about this for so long. I’m ready because we coaches and LITs have been attentively preparing. I’m ready because of the energy I’ve witnessed swirling around us for 3 days, the athleticism and music and laughter and sweetness bursting out of each optimistic individual here.
I am ready. We are ready. Bring on the campers!