Time really does fly here in TCI, especially when you are playing host to 23 students and faculty from Brock University! This past month has been primarily dedicated to the Brock University students’ arrival and the two programs that are the focus of their time in Turks and Caicos—the Brock University Achievement Through Sport Initiative and the Inter-Island School Tag Rugby Festival. When it finally came time for the Brock University faculty and students to arrive on February 14th, I was both very excited and uncertain for what was about to come, as I didn’t know how their presence in the schools would be received. The first few days leading up to the commencement of the programs were dedicated to providing the best possible Turks and Caicos experience to the students. We were able to provide the students with multiple excursions to the beach, island tours highlighting the local life and landmarks, and a boat trip to go snorkeling at a beautiful reef with incredible marine life!
On Monday February 18th, we officially began our Brock University Achievement Through Sport Initiative, in which all Brock students would be travelling to schools across TCI to deliver rugby programs and emphasize important topics such as women empowerment and staying involved in school. As we were driving the students off to their first school session, there was palpable nervousness coming from all students as they felt unsure of how the students would react to them teaching their classes. After a full day of observing the students in various classes it became evident that all nerves were gone, and the Brock students and kids were all having an incredible time. Many kids developed instant and deep connections with the students and the Brock students developed similar bonds with the students.
At the end of the school week, all hands were on deck with preparation for the Inter-IslandTag Rugby Festival. As this was the first ever rugby tournament of this kind, and it was to be the largest rugby tournament in TCI history, there were multiple logistical issues that needed to be concentrated on prior to the tournament which allowed myself and a group of students dedicated to the tournament to gain more of an insight into the unpredictable nature of event management in the Caribbean. The tournament began on the Friday with the U19 division round robin, which ended up being a great learning experience for everyone involved, especially myself, on the importance of communication and contingency plans after one team did not show up to play their games (a typical issue of TCI tournaments). After taking into consideration areas that needed improvement and making adjustments, the rest of the tournament went more smoothly than I could have ever imagined! Our Brock University team tackled all issues that arose like true professionals, which allowed all games to be played with the best caliber of preparedness and professionalism, creating the best possible atmosphere for all kids involved and the greatest tournament I could have asked for!
I can not put into words the gratitude I feel towards the Brock University students and faculty for their efforts in putting together what many people in the community are calling one of the best organized tournaments the island has ever seen. Their assistance allowed for kids to get a chance to demonstrate the skills that they had been taught over the past week on a proper field with incredible competition across all divisions, which they appreciated more than I could have ever imagined. The extent of the impact that these programs had in the schools and on the people of Turks and Caicos is hard to express. The effect will be felt throughout the community and the individuals they impacted for years to come. It is truly incredible what we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time, from getting students across TCI interested in taking the next steps towards pursuing a post secondary education, to touching the lives of many and positively impacting the way in which people on the island view themselves and others. This experience not only impacted the people of Turks and Caicos, but also all of the Brock University students and myself very deeply, and I believe this is an experience that we will all carry with us for the rest of our lives. Thanks again TCI for another incredible month!