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Jake and Eoin

As Jake and I sit here brainstorming what we could possibly write about, we could not help but acknowledge how comfortable and familiar we had grown to be with one another over the last two and a half weeks. Neither of us had ever been in a situation where we grew so close to new friends so quickly. Jake is a goofy, funny guy, but he has also disciplined and hard working. Eoin is a very thorough teacher, whose care for the children is manifested in his big and loving personality.

“The kids have taught me that being a good role model is not only about being friends with the kids, but it is also about leading by example. I know that the kids look up to us, and it has become clear to me that everything that I do might impact the way that they act or the decisions they make. Being a role model brings with it a lot of responsibility, but it simultaneously presents an amazing opportunity; the opportunity to help point these children in the right direction so that they never doubt themselves or sell themselves short.” – Eoin

Eoin

Not only have we grown incredibly close with one another, but we have also developed strong relationships with our kids. Jake and I both agree that we feared the development of our relationships with the children would be hindered by the language barrier, but we both quickly learned that our relationships with the children developed just as quickly without the direct communication of spoken word. We both found that we were more observant of mannerisms, facial expression, and attitude in general when we were not able to directly communicate with the children. Even little things like learning the children’s names, trying to correctly pronounce Vietnamese phrases, doing funny dances, or even just making funny faces go a long way in building personal connections and overcoming the language barrier.

“We were warned in pre-departure meetings that the second week can be hard, and people often experience homesickness (ngong wá). However, because of the aforementioned new challenges and the strengthening of the budding relationships from week one, Week Two held its own sweet surprises and new experiences. We could not feel more blessed with how Week Two went, and we are now entering week three with high hopes and positive energy.” – Jake

Jake

Inside jokes have even formed between coaches and kids. The basketball team consists of me, Eoin, Trang, Tú and Mitch. Mitch, a wrestler, does not have an extensive basketball background. During the first week, he became known for putting up some lower quality shots. Later that week we taught the children the basketball slang “swish” and “brick,” which mean a make and a missed shot, respectively. However, the kids started referring to bricks as putting up a “Mitch.” Naturally, our team loved this and started doing this too, creating a funny joke between the kids and coaches. Small jokes like these have become crucial in the development of our relationships with the kids.

Eoin

The second week of camp was defined by finding the perfect balance between goofing around, disciplining the kids, and maintaining enthusiasm amongst both the coaches and kids. As the kids grew more comfortable with the coaches we got to know the kids on a more personal level, but the kids also tended to act out or goof off a little bit more. Both Jake and I recognize how hard it is to be both a friend and an authority to the kids, yet we both agree that finding the balance between those two roles is necessary to make the camp as beneficial and impactful for the kids as it can be.

Initially I was scared that if I disciplined the kids they would not like me and that it would hinder my relationship with them, but I have come to realize that the kids come to respect us and admire us when we are also willing to push them to work a little bit harder and put their full effort into everything they do. The kids have taught me that being a good role model is not only about being friends with the kids, but it is also about leading by example. I know that the kids look up to us, and it has become clear to me that everything that I do might impact the way that they act or the decisions they make. Being a role model brings with it a lot of responsibility, but it simultaneously presents an amazing opportunity; the opportunity to help point these children in the right direction so that they never doubt themselves or sell themselves short.

Jake

The first week was fun and exciting for the fact that it was novel. New country, new people, coaching all day, the list goes on and on. The culture shock was a lot, but it also brought with it excitement, and was all the better because it was shared by all of us. The second week did not have this same allure of newness, and because of this had the potential to become a little wearisome.

We were warned in pre-departure meetings that the second week can be hard, and people often experience homesickness (ngong wá). However, because of the aforementioned new challenges and the strengthening of the budding relationships from week one, Week Two held its own sweet surprises and new experiences. We could not feel more blessed with how Week Two went, and we are now entering week three with high hopes and positive energy.

Here’s to the maintenance of lifelong friendship and to the goal of lasting impact.

 

Sincerely,

Jake and Eoin

One response to “Novelty Embedded Within a Familiar Routine

  • Patti Sullivan says:

    Eoin — good on ya, boy! Love reading yours and Jake’s blog. Some very incisive remarks about how to lead kids and find the balance between being a role model/friend/teacher in only 2 weeks. What these kids are teaching you both, huh? Keep observing and keep sending us notes.

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