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Several days ago our small group toured a local monastery. It was tucked up in the hills outside of a small city named Shangri-La. As expected, we wandered around and many of us witnessed a new and peaceful religion. As our journey through and around the monastery was ending, a young monk (maybe 20) called out to us, using his broken English to ask where we were from. After sharing that we were from the US, he looked around and quickly loosenedd his robe in order to show us his Cav’s Jersey of LeBron James. He was hyped, and quickly let us know that his English name was little James. For the next 20 minutes we spoke (in broken Chinese and English) about LeBron, the Cavs, Golden State, and Curry.

Today, basketball brought about similar rage at a small sports camp. Ryan (6’7”) was only known as Yao Ming; Jack (who sank a half court shot) was known as Chef Curry, and I, after dunking a ball garnered the name LeBron. We were instantly transformed from their camp leaders into camp legends. They shoved the ball into our hands asking us to shoot, dunk, and dribble.

 Even though we differ in culture, language, and often religion, we share similar traits like our competitive attitudes, kindness, and silly personalities. It is through sport that we can share our similar traits and connect in a deeper way.

The western culture of basketball has infiltrated China, even in a small town setting like ours. Jerseys are worn, and names are passed around as children compete and live their daily lives. It is amazing to see how much of an impact basketball can have on a culture and on children worldwide. It is similarly amazing how two different cultures can connect through such a simple thing as sport.

We still have several days of sports camp ahead of us, and I am excited to see what types of connections can be made with the students. Even though we differ in culture, language, and often religion, we share similar traits like our competitive attitudes, kindness, and silly personalities. It is through sport that we can share our similar traits and connect in a deeper way.

It was a pleasure to play with the kids today, entertaining them with our shooting, dribbling, and dunking abilities. I am thoroughly excited to continue the sports camp with them and the other leaders over the next couple days.

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