Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Give & Get

From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.
-Arthur Ashe

Kevin met the student he sponsors on Thursday.

We went to Ambrose's secondary school to have Kevin visit him at lunchtime. The secretary had Ambrose pulled out of class a few minutes early. He walked into the office and then there they were, student and sponsor, grins a mile wide, giving each other the Ugandan handshake, and then, a hug. I bit my lip and stood to take a photo of them. We walked out to the schoolyard where they got to talk for quite awhile.

I try to put myself in the place of the students who are sponsored, to imagine what it would be like to meet in person the one who is putting you through school. Especially the older teenagers, who are close to graduating and being able to take their qualifying exams for college... they are so aware of how the support is allowing them truly move forward. Ambrose doesn't have parents, he lives with his older brother. It has to be overwhelming, to meet your sponsor, to know what to say, how exactly to say thank you, and all in your second language. And I know that sponsors are eager to convey their care, their interest, their desire to see the student thrive...It's true that their lives are separated by obviously so much more than a continent and an ocean. But you learn that often, that separation doesn't matter at all.

It was awesome to see Kevin and Ambrose dive right in to exchanging stories and discussing sports and video games and school. We'd heard Ambrose is quite smart and driven, and that was evident. I know they each got to express the depth of their appreciation for the other. And past that, I watched them become friends, the seventeen year old and twenty seven year old, laughing and posing for photos in matching aviator shades, as girls looking on giggled.

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