New Faces in New Places

Posted By: Royce Paris
Posted On: September 3rd, 2018
Attending: Dundalk Institute of Technology

Butterflies ran through my stomach as I returned to Marist college for this years Sport Changes Life launch. I say return because I was once a student at Marist college before transferring to Skidmore College to finish out my undergrad. No regrets there. Anyway, as I looked at the other 32 new faces I knew I would make plenty new friends. 

After the launch, while we were all on the bus traveling to the airport personalities started to unravel. Sam and Steve moved along the bus talking to us in small groups. We all had hundreds of questions. Most of my questions were answered by sitting back and listening to others ask questions. All of us seemed to be thinking the same thing. “What are we getting ourselves into exactly?”.  We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to board our flight and just like that we were all in the air with 6 and a half hours of flight time ahead of us.

We arrived in Dublin at 5am GST which would be 12am EST. I couldn’t really tell you how I was feeling at that moment because it had already been a long day and we had a whole day of plans ahead of us. Pretty sure I was sleep walking through the airport as we went through customs and made our way to a bus that would take us to Ulster University . However, the bus was not ready for 32 Americans that each had luggage that outweighed them. Some bags had to squeeze into seats but somehow we mad it work and were off to Ulster University. Ulster University was beautiful to say the least. It was like located in Jordanstown, Ireland which neighbored the United Kingdom City of Belfast. 

The following week was filled with so much fun, it seemed to fly by. After, settling down in our rooms we went over to the Ulster University Sports Hall for a scrimmage/photoshoot. At first, it was tough to think about playing basketball after a 6 hour flight. However, after the photographer showed us how the pictures would look, the energy in the sports hall shifted quickly. We went through training on how to get accustomed to the culture and how to understand the thick Irish accents (accents seem to get thicker the more south you go). We explored downtown Belfast, The Giants Causeway, watched Sam run circles around the competition at his Football match, and even visited the beautiful house of The CEO of Sport Changes Life Gareth and his lovely wife Deirdre. Not done yet. The Ulster University victory scholars were lucky to have the Sport Changes Life headquarters very close to them in Belfast. So while we all were there, we were able to run a couple E-hoops sessions. Which involved mentoring and coaching disadvantaged youth. Through these sessions we were able to tap into the main reason why we were all here, to give back. Although I knew my time in Ireland would be fun, these sessions reminded me that my time would also be impactful. At the end of the week, it was hard watching all my new friends disperse to their new cities and schools. However, we would meet again soon in November and even though I had only known them for a week they had already impacted my life. Now it was time for us to make an impact on the youth in different cities.

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