A year of meetings, planning, and fundraising led to one culminating moment, the sense of euphoria, pride, accomplishment at the end of a successful experience travelling with my Senior Girls Soccer team from Surrey, British Columbia to the Twin Island Nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Though we began our journey with a somewhat rocky start, having to spend over 18 hours in Philadelphia after the plane was diverted for a medical emergency. The students and their resilience made the trip one of the most memorable life experiences I have had to date as an educator.
- The tireless work and support for an amazing soccer experience for all parties by Former Whitecaps Keeper and Mountain FC Coach Richard Goddard. Richard set up the whole Tobago Tour leg including scrimmages, tours of Tobago (Bucco Reef, Nylon Pool and Bishops High School). Richard is doing amazing things and trying to bring experiences for the youth of the Island of Tobago to open their eyes to the plethora of opportunities the world will provide with the right support.
- Meeting members through the Division of Youth and Sport in Tobago who were wholly supportive of our tour and want to develop a relationship with our school to continue these types of tours for both parties involved.
- Playing a Scrimmage with U17 National Team of Trinidad and Tobago at the historic Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima.
- The Tours and Cultural Experiences the girls and chaperones participated in: (Bucco Reef, Nylon Pool, Bishop's High School, Tobago Sunday School, Trinidad and Tobago Fire Hall (Chaguanas), How to make a steeldrum with Historic Steelpan Innovator- Jimi Philip- Visiting the Panyard of Supernova's Steel Orchestra with the prolific arranger-Amrit Samaroo, Maracas Beach, Trincity Mall, Tours of Port of Spain, Tunapuna and St.Joseph.
With this all taken into consideration, the biggest highlight for me was to see the country of Trinidad and Tobago and its wonder through the eyes of the students. They were so intrigued and willing to try new food, cultural activities, and experiences. They knew this was a one in a lifetime experience and they wanted to take part in everything. Watching them interact at Bishop's High School with the other students and realizing that they are all going through similar shared experiences allowed the girls a different perspective on life. And though we went to play soccer, the girls came back with more:
- Memories they will cherish with their friends and team-mates for the rest of their life.
- A respect and understanding of how big and small the world is. Though we all come from different, unique and beautiful spaces, many life experiences are relate-able- leading to a somewhat shared consciousness.
- A respect and understanding for the socio-economic and cultural uniqueness of Trinidad and Tobago and how it affects the lives of the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago.
- How diverse the islands are based on the historical battles of colonialism and how the affects of slavery and indentured servitude helped build the demography of the country.
- The social nuances and cultural nuances of each country and how to interact within these nuances.
- But most important, how lucky and privileged they are to live the lives they do and how much of that is a direct correlation to their parents hardwork, love and support. Many of the girls came back with more empathy and love for each other and everyone they socially interact with.
I hear the girls humming Calypso and Soca Music in the hallways. I hear them talking about the beauty of the island, the innovation of its people, the understanding of the steelpan instrument and how exotic and delicious the local food was. This is what learning is, it is knowledge, application, experience and synthesis. The girls have become honorary Trini's and will be so for the rest of their lives.