Boys Orphanage: by Cadet John Fatkin
(Note: Cross Cultural Solutions is a Non-government agency that performs humanitarian work in foreign countries. ARMY ROTC Cadets were placed with several of CCSs programs to help with humanitarian efforts.)
One of the placements that Cross Cultural Solutions provided was at the boy’s orphanage in San Carlos, Costa Rica. Before my endeavors with these young men I expected tattered clothing and sad faces. I was cordially welcomed by two individuals who seemed adamant to welcome me into their residence. The conditions in which they lived far exceeded my expectations. The facilities were clean and equipped with comfortable quarters and relaxation areas. Outside, they had a tremendous amount of space to play and conduct physical activities throughout their day. Some of the equipment was rather worn however, the wear and tear was expected due to the amount of use that everything had. Their personalities were wonderful and it was a treat to get to know these kids at a more personal level.
The first activity that we did with the boys consisted of a competitive game of basketball. I felt comfortable playing basketball with the young boys because it is a sport that I have been more accustomed to playing. At first, not all of the boys were tenacious enough to step up and join in on the game, but the wonderful group of gentlemen that I had the honor of volunteering with made it a point to coax the boys into participating. Maj. Drew—our cadre member—corralled of all of the boys into the basketball game. Everyone at the placement quickly covered down and focused their attention on getting all of the boys involved. Jamal Sarhani, respectfully, took the leadership position on a team that was fully equipped with young men. Jamal set his competitive nature aside and made sure that the boys were fully capable of participating in the basketball game. Our efforts were based solely on giving the children almost every shot at the basket, regardless of their talent and ages. I was blown away by the young boy’s competitive nature and remarkable sportsmanship. The outcome of the individual performances does not compete with the integrity of the young men to play by the rules and hold themselves accountable for fouls. Their displays of sportsmanship made it clear that the individuals at the boy’s orphanage were as well-behaved as I could have ever imagined.
The second activity that we conducted encompassed their personal athletic abilities in a game of soccer. Soccer is a sport that all of the boys had the most experience in. I enjoyed seeing the leadership of the boys in the beloved sport of their country. As the game progressed I learned many rules that I would have never picked up on if I were watching a soccer game at home. The boys were able to compete with each other and avoid confrontation when inauspicious predicaments arose. Confrontational endeavors in the sports world of the United States are a pivotal part of unsportsmanlike conduct. The diplomacy when significant situations went array painted a picture of what these kids were really about from a competitive standpoint.
Spending time at the boy’s orphanage was one of the greatest experiences I had during my time with Cross Cultural Solutions. The young men far exceeded my expectations mentally, socially, and morally. This placement set precedents for my future to engage in volunteer operations with orphan children in the United States. Cross Cultural Solutions should look towards funding the boys’ orphanage as a permanent placement for volunteers. The long drive to the orphanage is a petty excuse for depriving these children with interaction to other cultures and people. The boy’s were more tenacious to learn about my language and culture than the elderly people at Hogar de Ancianos. Having worked with the young boys I can see clearly that it takes two parties that want to culturally immerse themselves in order to get the most accomplished.