A 60-something year-old University President from Iowa heading to Tanzania to attempt to climb 19,340 feet to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro?

That's me. David Maxwell, president of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

I will be accompanying members of the Drake University Football Team to Tanzania as part of the Global Kilimanjaro Bowl — the first collegiate game of American football to be played on the African continent.

As part of this experience we will engage in service projects — including building a wing on an orphanage for children of AIDS victims, building housing for teachers at a school outside of Moshi, clearing land for school playgrounds, and working with a local organization that serves orphaned street children.

We will cap the trip with a trip to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro with our partners (and competitors) the CONADEIP All-Stars from Mexico.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A wonderful beginning

Both teams practiced at a sports club facility out near the airport at 9 this morning. Given the lack of sleep, the eight-hour time difference they are still adapting to and the altitude of 6,000 feet, I'm sure it wasn't either team's best workout.

After the practice, about 200 local schoolchildren came in for a football clinic. Many of them are very gifted athletes and some had played rugby. For the latter group, American football was not so weird. After running the kids through a variety of "drills," all designed to be fun with a lot of yelling and fist pumping, they were divided into teams and played a 15-minute game of "ultimate football."

In the Tanzanian kids' version, this seems to mean that everyone runs around the field throwing the ball and/or trying to intercept it, and when the game is over, one of them asks, "So how do you score points?"

The photo of a young woman in traditional Muslim attire catching a football with a determined look on her face is a wonderful metaphor for the trip. The kids learned a lot about football and us today. We still have a lot to learn about them, but today was a wonderful beginning.

After the "games," I noticed two of the CONADEIP players from Mexico teaching a few kids how to kick field goals. They were wonderful -- silly, serious, exalting in their success and falling down laughing when they missed (which was most of the time).

The kids noticed me and politely demanded that I hand over my sunglasses, and the posing began. After each photo, the kids gathered around the camera to judge whether or not my picture was worthy of their theatrics, or if I had to reshoot it to their satisfaction.

The pictures of the players (Mexican and American) with the school children say it all -- just look at their faces ... another sunrise...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing all of these experiences and photos with all of us "back home". What an exciting, inspiring, beautiful adventure! All the best to you and the Drake team.