Monday, January 25, 2010

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel, only read one page."

Two months ago, I was presented with the offer to spend 2010 working in southern Africa. I would, my boss informed me, work the first six months in Namibia, and the second in South Africa. First, I looked over a map to confirm that Namibia is indeed a country in southern Africa; and then next, honestly, I began researching the rock climbing opportunities in the lower continent. (As I have just spent the last year in the sandy lowlands of the Mississippi Gulf coast, I felt unwilling to sacrifice another year to the gods of the flat.) Once satisfied that there was actually a ridiculous amount of climbing to be done in the region, and that the work looked exciting and rewarding, I began wrapping my mind round the logistics of the journey, and then proposed it to Summer, cautiously…

"I'll go to Africa!" was her immediate response.

Absolutely no hesitation. She didn't seem too concerned with details. Africa? Um, yes. There may have then been a few excited expletives exchanged between the two of us…and a hug and a kiss…

So it was. Near the beginning of the new year, we would pack it up and make the flight across the Atlantic to what would be for us, an entirely new world. Especially for myself; Summer visited western Africa some years ago as part of her graduate studies (Masters in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management with a focus on Social Justice Across Cultures -- did I get that right Sum?) But for me, this gig would represent something I have been praying the gods to grant me for sometime: the opportunity to live and work in a foreign land. New people, new culture, new language(s), new problems, new solutions, new ways of looking at my life and the world. For some time I have sensed intuitively that this sort of displacement from American life would provide a different perspective that could be invaluable, in my assessing how to proceed in an increasingly complex world. Summer and I certainly want to spend our working lives contributing in a meaningful way, at least to the best of our comprehension, and it seems essential (and very difficult) to cut through the distractions of American existence in order to perceive a vastly larger reality. Out there…there is a whole world, more culturally, genetically, geographically, economically diverse than we can even imagine without seeing -- a world that needs our fully-conscious participation, right now. Can I get a "what, what!?"

Enough about that.

The project I'll be working on is dubbed: Football For Hope: 20 for 2010. It is a collaborative effort between a number of organizations, including the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), StreetFootballWorld, and many others. Its aim is to raise funds to create twenty Football for Hope Centers for public health, education and football across Africa. This initiative was established as part of the overall program for the 2010 World Cup football tournament, being held in South Africa this summer. Each center will consist of a youth football field, or "pitch," and a gathering space to house community-based social and economic programs. The programs, aimed at children and young people, use football as an instrument to promote participation and dialogue. The centers will address local social challenges in disadvantaged areas and improve education and health services for young people. Essentially, each center will provide a place for youth to learn, grow, seek support, and play soccer.

My job will be to manage the planning and construction phases of one or more of these centers, the first of which will be in Windhoek, Namibia. I arrive in Cape Town, South Africa late January for two weeks training and preparation, then onto Namibia once Summer arrives in early February. She and I were unable to travel the first leg together, as she is busy finishing up afore-mentioned cryptically-named master's degree in Vermont (best of luck to you baby!). It will be a great rendezvous when the time comes…

As we will be so far from those we love dearly, during this year, we decided it would be essential for us to stay connected to you all, and that it would also be a good chance for us to dial in our high-tech skills. Thus, we have started this blog (not that it is all that high-tech), as one way of doing so. We also invite you all to send us your Skype usernames, emails, home addresses, etc. I actually, two nights ago, Skype'd with Summer, Mernie, Toby and Haassie (Pablo the Pig was conspicuously absent) and it was really nice to see their shining, pixelated faces.

We really do want to keep you near and dear even across the miles.

So, thanks to all of you who have given us your love, support, and wisdom, in our preparations, and thanks for following along with us on this journey. Expect pictures, words, emails, snailmails, etc....we will try to share it, and convey the experience, as best we can along the way…


  1. TC, if you have a webcam, you can hit the V's up for a visit, too. It's how we stay connected on our partial trans-continental adventure. Congratulations to you and Summer on this journey. Keep us posted! Much love, BV

  2. I am very touched by your choice to travel Tommy. When I met you I knew you were someone that would make a difference in many peoples lives. I was only granted a short stay of your time but you have motivated me in many ways. Mike too has been touched by your energy. I am very happy for you and Summer. I am very excited to keep up with your adventures in SA. I look forward to your next update.

    Hum mani padi hung

  3. WOW! What an amzing opportunity! Can't wait to see the wonderful things this chapter brings you - best of luck Tommy C! Addy Evans-Mohn

  4. so that's what it's all about... and so eloquently written, can't wait for more. i'm so glad it's a journey for two. sending you both the best.


  5. Here's your "What! What!" Best to you and Summer. Send word as you can. This is for you and you are for it.

  6. heart!

    jules, man-kyle, and marles barkley

  7. We are looking forward to hearing it all...! and seeing as much as we can through your eyes, and skype! much love, Ludia, Peter, and Jacob!

  8. Can't wait to read/see more. Take care of your sweetheart!

  9. I think it high time that once again I remind you that you are my hero. Your job and location sound right up Tommy Calhoun lane. Hope to be reading other great entries soon.

  10. Found you!!! yeah, looking forward to hearing the latest, you both are on my mind and in my heart, connected across the miles. Love you!

  11. Also,looking forward to some fine words from zanyzebra. OXOXOXOOOOOO

  12. Hi Tommy!
    I just showed this to my mom and she said to tell you we send our love and those daily prayers I promised.
    Hope you are both doing well- awesome blog!