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Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.

5 things I learned from playing soccer with Kira

5 things I learned from playing soccer with Kira

  1. Never be too shy to ask to play soccer.      *On Monday, my orientation buddy, Louis, and I were sitting in the garden talking when Kira, a six year old girl who lives with her parents at the hostel, came up and asked if we wanted to play soccer with her.  While two 18 year old Americans might be intimidating to some people, she clearly had no fear of asking us to play and it turned out to be the best part of our day. 
  2. No place is too small to play soccer.                 *Altai Oasis is a beautiful hostel in the valley of the rushing challasuyu river (challa meaning shelf stone and suyu meaning river in Aymara), covered in towering Eucalyptus trees, and full of beautiful gardens full of fruits and flowers.  This incredible place would not necessarily be conducive to playing soccer, but that doesn’t stop Kira.  Every time the soccer ball would be kicked in to the garden, you would hear, “watch my grandmas flowers,” and whenever it would roll down the mountain we would run down retrieve the ball and return to the top and catch our breath before resuming the game.
  3. Always say yes.                     *Although I know some Spanish, Kira spoke in only Spanish, so the easiest response to almost anything she would say is yes.  For example, when she would play front she would ask me to go behind her and instead of questioning it, saying yes was the best answer.  While saying yes is not always the best choice, when playing soccer with a 6 year old, it is the best.
  4. You can always start over.            *The first day when we played soccer before dinner Louis and I tried to leave for dinner, but Kira wanted to keep playing.  In order to do so she just kept saying 0 -0 and we play to 12.  This starting over happened about 6 times before we had to leave in order to make it to dinner.  Not only is this skill important while playing soccer, but also when talking in Spanish, sometimes you just have to start your point over in order for it to make sense.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to slow down and repeat themselves.       *This might be the most important thing I learned.  No matter what, asking someone to slow down and repeat themselves only helps the situation.  At first it was hard to ask a six year old to slow down for me, but Kira was always willing to help explain herself slower and to teach me what various soccer terminology was in  Spanish. 

Overall I am so greatful to be able to be at this beautiful hostel and learning so much from Kira.  I can’t wait to see what else I will learn from interacting with the people we meet along the way. I’ll keep you posted!