Haitians Wrap Up Exchange Trip to United States
After a busy weekend, the Haitian group of campers and leaders, who are participating in our U.S. Department of State – SportsUnited funded exchange trip, made their way to the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute in Warm Springs, GA to spend five days at BlazeCamp.
After unpacking their bags, the Haitian group leaders joined their American peers for camp training while the campers took a tour of the Little White House. There they learned about the history of former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who himself had a physical disability but never let this get in the way of his career and achievements.
The following day the U.S. campers arrived and from the outset it was evident that the language barrier was not going to be a big issue when I came to both groups interacting and having fun. It didn’t take long for everyone to start to relax and enjoy playing games with one another. Throughout the week more and more friendships were created between the two groups. U.S. camper Derek Duvell’s favorite part of the week was getting to know the Haitians and learning more about their culture.
During camp, both the Haitian campers and leaders were trying new activities they’ve never experienced before. Some activities included learning to swim, archery and track and field events. A common favorite was being able to go out on the lake in canoes, kayaks and paddleboats. Everyone was having a good time rowing under the fountain to cool off on the hot day. A true culture exchange moment came during the nights at the camp fire where the leaders taught everyone games that Haitian children play in their country. All the campers were smiling, laughing and enjoying learning the new games.
On the last night of camp, everyone dressed up and threw on a cowboy hat, bandana and sheriff badges for the hoedown party. Once they heard the music, people were showing off their best dance moves and having a great time. To end the week at camp, the campers split up into teams representing different countries for a mini Paralympic Games where more activities were played. Once the day started wrapping up, it was time to say goodbye to a group of people who truly made the week an unforgettable one.
For their last day, the group was able to buy some souvenirs for themselves and family members and have an “all American” style sleepover at the Powder Springs First United Methodist Church.
Everyone was sad to see the Haitian exchange group fly on Sunday after 10 fantastic days in Atlanta but at the same time happy that new lasting friendships had been established.
By Charity Mahone, BlazeSports Intern
Last semester, my professor, invited a representative from BlazeSports America to my Introduction to Sports Management course at Georgia State University. Admittedly, I was unaware of the organization. To be honest, I was quite familiar with the opportunities in athletics and professional sports. I never considered the possibility of working with individuals with a physical disability as it pertains to sports. Nevertheless, Dan Humphreys did an exceptional job explaining how individuals with physical disabilities actively participate in sports. Then he discussed the purpose of BlazeSports America and how the organization impacts the disability sports world.
After class, I immediately pursued an opportunity to be an intern at the organization. At the time, Jeff Jones, Director of Sport & Community Programs, was unavailable to extend me an interview. He was away on business. He promised me he would provide me the opportunity to interview with him when he returned. I believe a week or two passed. Honestly, I thought he forgot about me. I was wrong. When he returned, he did exactly what he told me—contacted me for an interview. That meant a lot to me. After the interview, he asked me when I needed to hear an answer by. I told him as soon as possible. Guess what? The very next day, he extended me an internship opportunity. Once again, he did exactly what he promised. As a student seeking to gain experience, his consistency further compelled me to take the internship opportunity with the BlazeSports.
Unfortunately, some students have a far from rewarding experience at their internship. Sadly, these students spend majority of their internship handling small task such as—filing or making copies. However, I am not having that experience with BlazeSports America. I have only interned three weeks with the organization but I am beyond happy with my choice. Why, you may ask? I have been given the opportunity to provide assistance to BIG events hosted by Blaze such as—The South Eastern Wheelchair Basketball Conference Championship, the Roosevelt Games, and the Dixie Games. Also my supervisor, Gillian Sharp, continues to provide me with daily opportunities to enhance my professional skills. For instance, just yesterday she invited me to accompany her to a business meeting and she even asked for my input. My supervisor asked for my input!
I am grateful and blessed to work with an organization that is focused with not only making the community better but making their employees and interns better professionals as well.