Phillip Chung ’16 and Ileana Glyptis ’16 discuss how games — whether a World cup match or a spontaneous set of volleyball — can bring a group together:
Phillip: When we traveled from the Amazon to Salento, I experienced how football (soccer) is an important aspect of Colombian culture. After our pink dolphin watch, we entered Leticia, a town located by the Amazon river, to learn more about their life and culture. While we walked around town to several points of interest, I couldn’t help notice that the town was brimming with energy brought from the World Cup. As a result of the Colombia vs. Japan game today, the streets of Leticia were covered with a blanket of yellow. A parade of motorcycles sped down the streets of Leticia with waving flags and almost everyone proudly wore the Colombian national jersey. It was an exciting time because Colombia had not made an appearance in the World Cup for twelve years, but they had clinched a position in the second round. Nevertheless, I was amazed by the great amount of spirit and support for their country. I had never seen this much support for a sports team. The people seemed to use football as a way to create a sense of unity.
Later that day, I felt this sense of unity when we watched the Colombia vs. Japan game at the Bogota airport. There were many Colombians with their eyes focused on the big screen, but the crowd acted as one. We exhaled together with relief when the goalkeeper made a save and sighed together when an attack of ours came to an end. When Colombia scored their fourth goal, the airport exploded with noise. People young and old screamed “Gooooolllllll” and pumped their fists with lots of energy. Their happiness was contagious and I also found myself jumping up and down in joy. I remembered how our tour guide in Bogota described football in Colombia. He said, “We play football everyday. It is our first, second, and third national sport.” I believe that football is more than a sport in Colombia. It is an important part of their culture and it provides a great amount of joy and unity for the people. Viva Colombia!
Ileana: After arriving in Pereira the night before, we began our day with a two hour hike in Cocora Valley. That afternoon, we split into smaller groups and walked around the town of Salento. Each group explored different shops and restaurants with a focus on the subject of ecotourism. We looked at how each attempted to preserve the environment. This was a long day for us, but even though we were all tired, we sang Spanish songs on the way back to the hotel.
Once we arrived back, most of our group was planning on resting in their rooms. When we stepped out of the bus, a few of us saw a volleyball net and a volleyball. Some of us went over and started to play. After a few minutes we had most of the group, including two trip leaders, in the game. We played for a half hour and were laughing the entire time. It’s amazing how something so unplanned can be the perfect finish to such a great day. Sometimes the things that are unplanned are the most fun. I hope that we can continue these unplanned activities because that really brings the group together and will add to the memories we will keep after the trip ends.