I have learnt that one’s internship experience has the capability of directing them towards or against a certain career path depending on their view of the entire process in relation to the experience they go through while at it. I consider myself lucky to have been enrolled to an internship program that was not only surrounded by activities I enjoy, but also because I dealt with problems that I had seen people encounter while growing up and always wanted to help bring an end to. Baseball is not just a bat and ball game. It encircles social, cultural, psychological and emotional aspects of the players and other participants. While teaching baseball and travelling with a team of teenagers of mostly Dominican and Hispanic origin, I have gained much knowledge, experience from them and have been able to impact on the lives of the young Americans. The lessons gained can be gauged on the experiences I had growing up and also what I see in daily life.
For most American kids, dashing out of home to catch the school bus after grabbing something to eat and probably drinking the milk from the bottle could describe most mornings. Their weekly allowances and planned out hang-out times with their friends after a gruesome day at school could serve as opportune venting time for most. Most parents live for the moment they will see their kids step up to the podium to shake the principles hand as they are handed with their certificate to commemorate their educational achievement. Some kids are however not as lucky to live the American dream.
Growing up, my parents always emphasized on the need to share. They always said that there is no better way to enjoy life than to share it with the people you love. Of course that did not make sense to me at the time because childish ideas dictated that the more you have the happier you would be. My parents made me earn every penny I would spend on my childish pleasures or whatever I wanted to. So I tended to the garden, took out the trash and occasionally tried to mow the lawn sometimes I even tried cooking. The frowns I got at the table while my family members swallowed the either half cooked or burnt food as they told me it was good reduced my visits to the kitchen. I was never good at most of these things but I did everything to add that extra cent to my much cherished piggy bank.
When my family moved to a new neighborhood I thought I would never be happy again. I had gotten so attached to my childhood friends and I felt like I had been cut away from my second family. My parents tried hard to assure me that I would make new and hopefully better friends with whom I would feel as fulfilled as I thought I had been before. They also put emphasis that the most important thing was that our family was still together. I kept to myself occasionally peeping through my bedroom window, afraid of not meeting kids who would not want to play with me for some reason or the other.
Soon enough, I got the courage to get out and make new friends. The experience was different from the one I had been accustomed to, just like my parents promised, I had a good time playing and sharing different experiences with my new friends, they were different. The new multiracial environment ended up being unbelievably nourishing to me. With time, we started playing our childhood games with Rodrigo and other friends we had and at times planned to go together to watch live baseball games after making enough ticket money.
We worked hard to save enough for tickets and pop corn, we had to, baseball is the national sport of the United States (Princeton University Press, 2010). My mostly immigrant friends felt more American from watching both live and televised baseball games and also playing with our bats and balls at the parks on weekends. In a short time, they became genuinely interested and enthusiastic about the sport. Eventually, we started visiting local leagues due to the passion we had for the game getting inspired by players like Johnny Estrada, a well celebrated MLB catcher and also Hank Aquirre, an MLB all star-pitcher. We wanted to be just like them, or even better, which seemed to be next to impossible at the time.
Then we grew up and went to college. My internship period though short, was characterized by life changing experiences. One particular kid in the team I was an intern for called Jose caught my eye in a peculiar way. He reminded me of my friend Rodrigo who had moved from Puerto Rico and was by far taken by his dream to be accepted to play for the MLB like our baseball icons. Like Rodrigo, his mother was the only parent he knew. She, like other immigrants had problems getting a well paying job making it hard for them to live comfortably. She however worked multiple odd jobs to make sure Jose was well catered for. I remember Jose telling me countless times how he could not wait to become a pro player so that he could take care of his mother who by then was facing problems like being up to date with her health insurance, mortgages and other bills. Jose always pointed out to me that he did not see the need as to why his mother had to go through that as he could help her out by getting a job as he was already fifteen.
His mother however always declined his offer citing his need to be in school full time as her major reason. He also told me how his mother friend Juanita who was almost a member of their family always told him that he would make his father proud for being such a supportive and sensible young man. He did not see a big deal about the whole fuss because he is 15. Juanita, a Dominican immigrant has a 19 year old son, Pedro, who on top of dropping out of grade school, was doing drugs and was an active gang member. Pedro always seemed to be angry and his blood shot eyes depicted nothing but resentment which Jose translates as sadness for how he lived his life. Jose’s father had died trying to get into the US illegally to be with his family. Both he and his mother were unclear of the circumstances of his death. We tried to stay off the topic as it was a sad one to him, and unfortunately the same story of most of our Hispanic friends.
Life teaching these children has brought the best out of me. I saw how many privileges life has given me. I was lucky to have my parents at home when school was out. My mother was always there to serve us with her delicious meals. Memories of when we held hands to say grace the last night before I left home for college have made me really understand how important it was for me to say grace. I was holding hands with my entire family right before we enjoyed a well prepared meal that I did not have to worry about and the most important thing was that the rest of my family was with me.
My college years have been the most eye opening period in my life. I have learnt the need to be a participant in the much needed change that movements advocate for. I have met individuals from different backgrounds and shared their problems which enlightened my view of the world and made me want to participate in bringing positive change. When I chose my internship teaching Baseball and travelling with a team of between 15 and 16 year old Hispanic and Dominican teens, I thought of it as the best way to impact the lives of the young individuals. My childhood passion and skills in the game in addition to my experiences came in handy in teaching them social, life and baseball skills. Travelling to games with the team necessitated social interactions between the teens and I in which we discussed the problems they face in their daily lives.
Most of them go through the same difficulties, from gangs to financial constraints. The teenagers have been able to encourage each other on the various difficulties they face whether academic, family or social problems. These people might have been consumed by drugs, gangs or even drop out of school. It is said that baseball is the national sport of America. Participating in games against other teen baseball teams in minor leagues has helped the teens feel at home with the whole idea of being American hence not looking at themselves as a third class minority group of immigrants. Most of the teens have also been reported to have improved in their academic grades ever since they joined the team. This is a clear indication of the positive impact of sport on teenagers (How Hoes Stress Affect Health, 2010).
My internship experience teaching not only baseball but also life skills to these young Americans has inspired me to continue giving to society what I learnt growing up which is why I have an ardent aspiration to teach gym class and also be a baseball coach for either a high school or even college. This is because I not only feel inspired or guided by my internship experience, but I equally feel prepared by the knowledge and experience gathered during the process. Gym and sports are aspects that nourish the social, psychological and also emotional well being of individuals which is my inspiration for ensuring teenagers end up well rounded, physically and socially fit members of our society through activities that they enjoy like baseball and gym sessions.
Press, P. U. (2010). Baseball in Blue and Gray: The National Passtime During the Civil War by George Kirsch. Prinston University Press . Retrived on 4th May 2010 from: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/7497.html
How does Stress Affect Health (2010). Sports psychology’s positive effects on teens and their families. Retrieved on 4th May 2010 from: http://howdoesstressaffecthealth.org/sports-psychologys-positive-effects-on-teens-and-their-families