The Rubicon

Geller and Sirek take part in sport-based youth development in Haiti

Freshman+Mimi+Geller+and+sophomore+Greta+Sirek+sit+and+read+with+school+kids+through+the+Haitian+Initiative.+Unlike+mission-related+trips%2C+Haitian+Initiative+is+a+non-denominational+program.+%22The+Haitian+Initiative+program+was+a+well-oiled+machine%2C+and+I+am+so+thankful+the+athletes%2C+students+and+coaches+accepted+us+into+their+amazing+program%2C%22+Sirek+said.+
Freshman Mimi Geller and sophomore Greta Sirek sit and read with school kids through the Haitian Initiative. Unlike mission-related trips, Haitian Initiative is a non-denominational program.

Freshman Mimi Geller and sophomore Greta Sirek sit and read with school kids through the Haitian Initiative. Unlike mission-related trips, Haitian Initiative is a non-denominational program. "The Haitian Initiative program was a well-oiled machine, and I am so thankful the athletes, students and coaches accepted us into their amazing program," Sirek said.

Freshman Mimi Geller and sophomore Greta Sirek sit and read with school kids through the Haitian Initiative. Unlike mission-related trips, Haitian Initiative is a non-denominational program. "The Haitian Initiative program was a well-oiled machine, and I am so thankful the athletes, students and coaches accepted us into their amazing program," Sirek said.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






 

Jack Geller attends a soccer practice led by the Haitian Initiative. Jennifer Rideway, CAO and executive vice president of The Sanneh Foundation, describes HI as being parallel with the Sanneh Foundation's purpose. "The ultimate goal of the HI program aligns with The Sanneh Foundation's mission to empower kids, improve lives, and unite communitites," Ridgeway said.

I stepped outside of the Port-au-Prince airport, took a deep breath in, and admired the full moon. I was comforted knowing that it was the same moon my family and friends were looking at. I hopped into the truck that would drive us to our guest house, our home for the next six days. During the drive, there I smelled burning garbage, heard dogs barking and cars honking, and drove past groups of little children who stared as we went by.

Once we arrived at the house, we unpacked and sat with our group for dinner and a meeting. We shared our hopes for the SportsUnited: International Sports Initiative trip, and finally St. Paul Academy and Summit School alumnus, CEO of The Sanneh Foundation, and director of the Haitian Initiative Tony Sanneh (‘90) left us with one final remark.

“Do good,” Sanneh said.

As stated in the SportsUnited: International Sports Initiative:

“The purpose of the U.S. Department of State SportsUnited: International Sports Programming Initiative Mutual Exchange Program is to use sports to help under served youth around the world to develop important leadership skills, achieve academic success, and promote tolerance and respect for diversity.”

The Sanneh Foundation is one of ten organizations chosen to lead with the Department of State’s SportsUnited program. Jennifer Ridgeway, CAO and executive vice president of The Sanneh Foundation, describes HI as being parallel with The Sanneh Foundation’s purpose.

“The ultimate goal of the HI program aligns with The Sanneh Foundation’s mission to empower kids, improve lives, and unite communities. HI uses soccer as a catalyst to provide education, nutritious meals, health and wellness support in a positive and culturally relevant setting. School attendance and passing grades are a requirement to participate in the HI program. The program’s goal is for youth to play together on the field, learn together in the classroom, work together in the community and live together in harmony in the world,” Ridgeway said.

A typical day began with a visit to the HI building in Cite Soleil to help the children in their English classes. After that, we would walk to the soccer field and play soccer with the children.

While the six-year-olds were learning, the middle-aged children were playing soccer while the older children ate. The Haitian Initiative program was a well-oiled machine, and I am so thankful the athletes, students and coaches accepted us into their amazing program.”

— Sophomore Greta Sirek

Sophomore Greta Sirek, who also went on the trip, describes the program as organized and rewarding.

“The organization of the program surprised me; while the 6-year-olds were learning, the middle-aged children were playing soccer while the older children ate. The Haitian Initiative program was a well-oiled machine, and I am so thankful the athletes, students and coaches accepted us into their amazing program,” Sirek said.

Giving the youngest children new HI clothing is the most significant thing I did while on this trip. Sanneh asked the girls playfully if they wanted new uniforms for soccer, to which they all exclaimed “yes” with excitement filling their faces. Sirek and I passed out the new clothes to the girls and helped them change. This was a monumental moment in their lives because it was likely the first time they had ever received new clothing. After giving them their uniforms, we were able to join their very first soccer practice.

“I was super excited to see them play in the uniforms. When I arrived to the fields, all the young boys and girls came running up to us, giving us hugs, and some even remembered our names. While they patiently waited for their practice to start, I could tell they were so excited to have their first practice,” Sirek said. “All of the girls’ appreciation for the Haitian Initiative appeared in their constant smiles and willingness to participate. I am so glad I was able to meet these hard-working children, and although they may not remember me, I will forever remember their genuine smiles.”

Ridgeway describes the trip as being unique to any other trip students could take to Haiti. Unlike mission-related trips, Haitian Initiative is a non-denominational program.

“This trip affords students exposure to sport-based youth development.The Haitian Initiative utilizes the power of sport to connect communities.Our positive sport-based youth development program offers an opportunity for youth to experience sport, life, and leadership skills in a safe, fun, and supportive environment,” Ridgeway said.

Although six short days is certainly not enough time to leave a huge impact, I do wholeheartedly believe I ”did good” through my work with the children in the program.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Writer
Mimi Geller, Director of RubicOnline

Mimi Geller is the Director of RubicOnline. This is her fourth year on staff. Mimi believes that high school journalism connects people by sharing their stories while documenting the spirit of a community. Mimi has additionally served as the Assistant Director of Journalism at Orca Tribe Project, a youth initiative that connects local artists in the Twin Cities and has written for The Villager Newspaper in St. Paul. Outside of journalism, Mimi is the captain of Girls Varsity Volleyball, a member of Community Action and Service and a part of Summit Singers. Mimi can be reached at rubicon.spa@gmail.com

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
1 Comment

One Response to “Geller and Sirek take part in sport-based youth development in Haiti”

  1. Gene Kraay on May 7th, 2016 4:56 pm

    Well done, Mimi. It was my pleasure to be with you, Jack and Greta during that amazing week in Haiti. I envy you all that you were able to participate in this journey as young adults. May the force be with you.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Geller and Sirek take part in sport-based youth development in Haiti

    FEATURE

    [WHAT’S ON MY DESK?] Heckman shares fun mementos

  • Geller and Sirek take part in sport-based youth development in Haiti

    FEATURE

    [QUIZ] How should you spend MEA weekend?

  • Geller and Sirek take part in sport-based youth development in Haiti

    FEATURE

    [FILTERED] Students share their favorite parts of fall

  • Geller and Sirek take part in sport-based youth development in Haiti

    FEATURE

    Sogin loves cats for their quirks

  • Geller and Sirek take part in sport-based youth development in Haiti

    FEATURE

    Speaking in code: Equality in Tech club promotes inclusivity

  • Geller and Sirek take part in sport-based youth development in Haiti

    FEATURE

    Sounds of SPA: music coming from performance spaces inspires instrumentalists

  • Geller and Sirek take part in sport-based youth development in Haiti

    FEATURE

    Jaeger employs 3D printing prowess

  • Geller and Sirek take part in sport-based youth development in Haiti

    FEATURE

    SPA Views: Students find favorite spaces

  • Geller and Sirek take part in sport-based youth development in Haiti

    FEATURE

    Weightlifting Club welcomes female-identifying lifters

  • Geller and Sirek take part in sport-based youth development in Haiti

    FEATURE

    History curriculum engages critical thinking