Our third experience is from Andrew Hurst, a returning OutReach 360 volunteer. He emphasizes the importance of one of our pillars: leadership. Andrew describes how this shaped his experience and how it help him conduct the soccer camp in Monte Cristi. Please read below, and enjoy!
“The trip to Dominican Republic was an experience unlike any other. I was so excited to combine my love for service with my love for soccer. My leadership skills were definitely put to the test in an arena I had never ventured into before, but I jumped right in and didn’t waste any time.
I first heard about the soccer camp back in March when I was volunteering with Outreach360 during my spring break. I didn’t know if I would have the time or the money, but I knew I would be back. So, the week after I got home, I booked my flight for July 11th. I didn’t really have much of a choice, so I started fundraising. The support I received from my friends and family was amazing; without them, this trip would not have been possible.
During my trip in March, I had been attending meetings with for months leading up to the trip, so I knew what to expect. However, on this trip, I didn’t know anyone; I wasn’t sure how I would fit in to the Soccer For Change team, but we fit together immediately. On Sunday evening, our communication skills were put to the test in the futsal league. I stepped into my natural leadership position on the court as everything fell into place. It wasn’t long before I knew that the upcoming week would be awesome.
When we arrived to our first camp Monday morning, there were already a few dozen kids there. It was a pleasant surprise, especially since in the month or so that the baseball/softball camp had been running, they seldom had more than 10 kids. For the first two days, we primarily followed instructions from Marcus and his dad. On Wednesday and Thursday, we all knew how things operated and had open communication, so we all started to take on different leadership roles.
I felt confident in the foundation that was set to lead the younger kids in both the morning and afternoon camps. Knowing how to speak Spanish definitely was an asset. The kids appreciated whenever I tried communicating in their language, even if it wasn’t perfect grammar or syntax. Serving as a leader, using a language secondary to my own was definitely a step out of my comfort zone. However, the support from the Outreach360 staff and the rest of the Soccer for Change volunteers was very encouraging. The entire experience was life-changing for me, and I could tell from the kids’ reactions on the last day of camp, that everything we had done with Soccer For Change had made the impact I had hoped for, and I believe will be ever-lasting.
Soccer For Change has a lot of potential to be an agent for change in the world. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have participated in this experience and I look forward to working with the organization in the future.”
Seeing the world of Soccer For Change and how it has altered not only the children’s lives, but Andrew’s life is inspiring. It really shows how an organization can affect people all over the world, and we are so happy that Andrew came on this trip with us. Andrew (and his Spanish) we are special and necessary addition to our Soccer For Change team!