On August 20th, 2019 my life changed for the better. Myself and a few other scholars boarded a plane for Dublin that arrived at 4:20 in the morning. I expected to land in Dublin exhausted and groggy from the long flight but I was the exact opposite, full of energy and ready to get started on my new journey. When we arrived to Ulster University after a wee (Little) 2 hour bus ride we freshened up and had our first Irish breakfast, needless to say it was delicious. After that, we got right into orientation. Usually, I associate orientation with loads of administrative boring material but so far this one has been different. It’s been a wee bit of craic (loads of fun) getting to know all of the amazing scholars and staff associated with Sport Changes Life. Although we’ve only been here for 6 days, it feels as though we’ve known each other for years. Not only are they all amazing basketball players, they’re even better people.
Orientation has been a time of many firsts for me. First time out of the country for an extended period of time on my own, first time in Ireland, first time doing outreach in a nursing home and first time learning about the Peace Walls around Belfast and the brutal conflict that is still happening among other things. It’s been inspiring to see the impact that we can have on people on all ages through sports, especially the young people of the island. After running a successful E-hoops program, I began to realize how important the work that we will be doing around the island as Victory Scholars will be throughout the year. The smiles that the Carmoney ladies soccer team had on their faces during the simple games that we played with them and interacting with us will be a memory that I won’t soon forget. I’m very fortunate and extremely excited to be here and cannot wait to get started in Sligo although I’ll be sad to leave headquarters as we all get ready to go our separate ways. In the meantime, I’m sure I’m in for much more craic throughout the year and can’t wait to see what lies ahead.
I wanted to end this with a quote that my Dad used to end all of his emails with: “Never let the odds keep you from doing in your heart what you were meant to do.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
I know in my heart that I was meant to be a Victory Scholar and positively impact as many young people as I can throughout my time in Ireland.