For those of you holed up in North Korea, literally living in the dark, there happens to be a historic tournament underway on the continent of Africa. Wait a tick, North Korea is in the tournament, so if you’re flipping burgers in Kim Jon Il’s backyard, you should damn well know about the World Cup! Granted the North Korean team was impaled by Portugal in their last game, losing 7-0, but they scored one against Brazil to let the world know they’re for real and they too play the world’s greatest sport.
For those of you now reading with a nose-tickle of condescension and maybe a half-neuron denunciation like, “actually Mr. Writer, hockey/basketball/football/baseball/tennis/golf/ballet is the world’s greatest sport”, I remind you, with a slap on the wrist, you’re wrong (John Grieser and Jake Brulc in particular). Soccer, as us yanks call it, football and futbol to most of the rest of the world, is the only sport that really matters. So if you have yet to feel any World Cup passion and failed to enjoy the two absolutely heart pounding previous U.S.A games, you should probably turn in your citizen of Earth ID card at the nearest 7-11 and depart to another galaxy, (try Andromeda).
What the U.S. team lacks in skilled tacticians on the field, they make up for with sheer heart. We should be proud of their grit and cohesion. They have yet to win a game, tying the first two matches, but chances are good against Algeria tomorrow. A win should see the team into the knockout rounds. Support the team and don’t forget to watch the game tomorrow! At the very least you can pick up some soccer lingo, and in the case you ever meet a foreigner who doesn’t know English, you can have an unproductive and awkward two minute conversation.
Now to segue into renewable energy. Dirrrrrrrr, I’m at a loss. How bout’ this. The World Cup is in Africa right now and nine OIT students and one teacher are departing for Tanzania in August to install solar panels for locals. Although they will be a few thousand zebras away from the action and ohhhhh about a month late, the party should be lingering still, even in Dar es Salaam.
Since it’s inception by Dr. Petrovic last fall, the OIT Portland Tanzania excursion has become official and the plane tickets have been bought. The students will install up to six different photovoltaic arrays with battery banks onto rural schools. The local teachers will be given owner and maintenance manuals to keep the systems running. The installed systems will mainly provide energy for computers, cellphone chargers and LED night lamps. Currently, many Tanazanian students, students who live in dormitories at their school, use kerosene lamps to study at night. The lamps cause respiratory problems and have more than once caught fire. In rare instances, dormitories have burned to the ground and students have died. LED lamps can prevent some of these tragedies. In addition, computers and cellphones will raise their education and living standards. Now that schools like MIT have been pioneering open source lectures, there is little reason a rural Tanzanian won’t be able to obtain a top tier education for free.
Aside from the hard work, and maybe a little post Cup celebration with the locals, the nine OIT students have also committed to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, exploring Serengeti National Park and living amongst the Masai people for a few days. A couple of the Portland students have never been outside U.S. soil so the after-trip stories will probably be told with a couple more exclamation points.
The World Cup 2010 is still burning bright, hundreds of millions tuning in each day to relish the drama. What a wonderful way to bring the world together, even for a brief time. The OIT Portland students will be touching ground in Tanzania in its wake, but they will bring their adventurous spirits for a worthy purpose and a another way to bring people together. Though they will be welcomed by Tanzania for their cause, they shouldn’t have any trouble making a good first impression either, after the one the U.S. national team has already made on the world’s stage.