By: Jonatan Osorio De Leon
Hello readers, family, and friends back home Jonatan here! Un Jani! (How are you!)
One month down already? Man, how quickly time flies. First off, I’m glad to say that I feel as if I have fully adapted to living here in Swaziland and boy oh boy has it ever been awesome and life-changing.
This blog post will give you an idea of some of the work and tasks I’ve been assigned to do in the month that I’ve been here. Therefore, without further ado so let’s get to it!
To start off I must say my Swaziland Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association (SOCGA) work colleagues have been very welcoming and willing to answer any questions I have for them! They have shown me various phrases and words in SiSwati that have helped me significantly thus far in my journey. They have shown me where to obtain a Swazi Sim Card, where to go grocery shopping, and even how to successfully ride the Kombi’s here in Africa (Kombi’s act as Africa’s form of public transportation). Overall, I already feel connected to my SOCGA colleagues and look forward to getting closer to them as time continues to fly.
In terms of tasks or assignments, I’ve been assigned with the task of completing two sport administrative reports for SOCGA’s Olympic Day Run event and the FutbolNet event, where I have gone on to complete both. Although these reports are very important to the administrative side of SOCGA, CEO Sidney Simlane has assigned Matt and I task’s that will keep our hands full for the majority of our time here in Swaziland. I have been tasked with developing a commercialization plan for the local OlympAfrica center in Swaziland, a challenging assignment that I am excited to take on!
Other than that, I have been lucky enough to help some of the SOCGA staff and volunteers in running a FutbolNet event twice here in Swaziland. Our team utilizes Futbol (Soccer) as a tool to educate African children on values and fair play where I believe we have impacted the lives of over 2,000 kids in my time being here. The game of FutbolNet is essentially a game of soccer, but we let the kids choose their own rules for the game, and the winner isn’t necessarily the team that scored the most goals, but also the team that demonstrated the best use of values and sportsmanship. These events were extraordinary and I couldn’t resist having a smile on my face the whole time! I mean how could you not, these kids were playing soccer under the beating sun for hours and still had the energy to sing and dance. It was an amazing experience where I was even persuaded to go out of my comfort zone and get involved!
Overall, I’ve loved it so far here in Africa and come to think of it we’re just getting started!
I’ll pass over the blog to Matt now
Good-bye and see you soon to everyone back home!
Till next time!
By: Matt Milligan
As Jon has mentioned above, a month has flown by, and it has been a wonderful experience, to say the least! As this is my first true international experience, the learning curve has been steep, and very rewarding! – Here is a picture of our residence and the view.
This past month has been centered around getting used to our city Mbabane, and taking in a multitude of different experiences. So far, everyone we have met, from our CEO to locals within the community, have been kind and helped us feel at home. I can’t speak highly enough of the Swazi culture! As Jon mentioned above, our FutbolNet experience was a perfect way to get acquainted with the country. Watching kids play futbol under the beating hot sun, for hours barefoot in the dirt, and still have the energy to sing, dance, smile and laugh??? I have never been so humbled, and present to the immense power of sport. This simple experience has already changed my life, and to think I still have 2 and a half months left!
As Jon will be working on a commercialization plan for OlympAfrica, I have been tasked with completing an analysis of the state of volunteerism within the sport system of Swaziland, and developing recommendations towards its growth and sustainability. Both these projects will hopefully leave a legacy for SOCGA and for future SportWORKS interns to take on. They will also add great value to our lives and professional experience! But that is not all we will do, over the course of the next weeks and months, we will be spending time at the OlympAfrica center, working with their local volunteers and playing games and sports with the local youth. What a perfect way to understand a sport system, volunteers, and a culture!!
Work isn’t all we do though! Last week we were invited to attend a CAF Champions League Futbol game between the Mbabane Swallows and 1° de Agosto, the local Swallows won the game, and the crowd’s excitement would match any Canadian hockey crowd!
Also, This past weekend we were able to attend the international music festival Bush-Fire held here in Swaziland. Over 19,000 people were in attendance over the weekend from every continent. The music we heard ranged from local Jazz and Funk to House and EDM. I don’t think I’ve ever danced so much in my life! This was a fantastic way to get in touch with the richness of the local culture. Our CEO told me that here in Swaziland, you are expected to know how to dance and sing…and he was right!!
Over the next weeks, we will be adventuring out into the wilderness and hiking some of the various mountains in the country! More to come with pictures and stories!
Until next time dear friends!