Thursday, July 21, 2011

Where Do These People Come From?

TigerBlog could sum up the overwhelming majority of his lifetime's community service record in two words: coaching kids.

Let's face it. That's not quite rolling up his sleeves and feeding the hungry or helping the unfortunate.

Yes, TigerBlog can hope that he's had an impact on some of these kids and that they learned something in the way of life lessons from him. In fact, he knows several examples where that is most definitely the case.

Still, that's basically where it ends for him.

When TB was writing the Princeton Athletics Year in Review and doing the senior-athlete video, he obviously included the winners of the Roper Trophy and von Kienbusch Awards as the primary honorees of the previous year.

And the Art Lane Award winners? Yeah, they're in there, though always less prominently featured than the athletic awards.

The Art Lane Award is given for outstanding contribution to sport and society by a Princeton senior athlete. Each year when TB first sees the nominations, he's amazed at how some of these athletes are able to balance the requirements of being a student and playing a sport and then go out and spend additional hours each week helping others.

Often, he finds himself thinking to himself: "Where do these people come from?"

He finds himself today thinking the same about Chad Wiedmaier, the All-America defenseman on the men's lacrosse team.

Wiedmaier left yesterday for a four-week trip to Uganda
, during which time he'll work with an organization called "Fields of Growth" that is using lacrosse to help promote education and citizenship in that country. To date, it has been wildly successful, as Uganda was just admitted to the Federation of International Lacrosse and as such is eligible for the 2014 World Championships in Denver.

Wiedmaier's trip will see him centered primarily in Kampala, the capital of the country, where he will conduct lacrosse clinics, oversee an unofficial national championship tournament and help out in several educational endeavors.

Additionally, Wiedmaier is also going to spend time in more rural settings, helping build schools and on other such projects, while also spending time near the rain forest that borders Uganda, Rwanda and Congo as he assists a displaced group of Batwa Pygmies.

More than half of the people in Uganda live in poverty. Wiedmaier went to the Delbarton School, whose tuition each year exceeds the average annual income of your average Ugandan by about 25 times.

Wiedmaier is a three-time first-team All-Ivy League defenseman, and he will head into his senior year with a chance to become the first four-time selection in school history. In fact, only one Ivy League player, Cornell's Max Siebald, has ever been a four-time first-team selection, and Wiedmaier and Cornell's Rob Pannell both have a very good chance of joining Seibald next year.

For all that, Wiedmaier could have spent his summer on Wall Street or working at lacrosse camps or even lifeguarding at some beach somewhere.

Instead, he's chosen to head to a poor country on a poor continent to try and do some good.

Maybe it's a function of the University itself, with its unofficial motto of "In the Nation's Service and Service of All Nations."

Maybe it's more a function of the people themselves.

In Wiedmaier's case, he summed it up this way after drawing on his experience last summer in Costa Rica:
"You can be told so many times how lucky you are to live in America or attend a college like Princeton," Wiedmaier says. "You don't really understand it until you go out of the country. Even though Costa Rica is hardly a developing country, it still showed me how fortunate we are to have the resources we have. That experience made me want to keep traveling and keep helping people."

Again, TigerBlog asks, where do these people come from?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It also can't hurt that he and some other Princeton students have the "luxury" of being able to do this type of community service because they come from well-to-do families and don't need to worry about paying rent, bills, student loans while they are away.