Sunday, September 14, 2014

Like many of you who read this blog you have a passion for traveling to places that make your friends and co-workers jealous. Being a teacher I have two passions in life; my students and their learning experience and my time off in July and August. There’s no question I do my very best to take full advantage of my eight weeks off in the summer. Hiking, golfing but more importantly seeing as much of the world as possible. During my last trip I had the distinct pleasure of traveling to Myanmar (Burma) a place I have had my eye on for some time. Although we didn’t stay in Myanmar for long, the impression its people and culture left on me is something I will always remember. Myanmar was the tipping point in pursuing a dream that I have had for some time - starting a charity before I turned thirty. I never dreamed that my love for sport (Soccer/Football), travel and my passion for children would blend in the way it has. After coming home from traveling to south east Asia, my girlfriend (now fiancĂ©) started The Ball is Round Society, in which we fundraise to buy soccer balls and then pass those balls onto people who are traveling themselves and want to do a little bit of good on their trip but don’t know how to get involved in a larger NGO or simply don’t have time on their trip to do so. Because soccer/football is such a global sport you will never have trouble finding children who are playing the game somewhere, unfortunately they don’t always have a proper ball to play with. Our goal is slowly, but surely, growing and connecting with travelers who want to help bring a little bit of change to the world through sport.
It was on a humid day with almost unbearable heat in the heart of Myanmar that my girlfriend and I found ourselves riding rented bicycles through the countryside surrounded by farmers fields. There was monastery after monastery scattered in the fields and we passed by the occasional roadside stand. Our journey started out with an eager search for a Geocache hidden inside one of the many monasteries located in the area. Without a GPS to help us locate the correct monastery, we found ourselves riding around hoping we would find what we were looking for with just the simple directions given to us by the woman who rented us the bikes. After going to the wrong monastery a second time, one of the monks politely pointed across the field. With a new light of excitement we hopped on our bikes and took off down the road. There weren’t any real roads to speak of so we had to keep our eyes on the building in the distance leaving us to guess which little dirt goat path was the right one. Eventually, we make a turn and are taken down a path that leads through farming villages and small cinder block buildings that look like they were constructed in one afternoon. After realizing this path wasn’t going to take us where we wanted to go we found ourselves in front of a one-room school with dozens of curious faces staring at us with curiosity. Although this wasn’t the monastery we were looking for, happening upon that school did allow us to do something we always do when traveling and that is to pass on a little bit of goodwill by handing out a soccer ball to the children. This brought much more unexpected attention and soon enough the teacher was at the door wondering where all her students had run off to. Without any need to explain, I presented the ball to one of the students and they all gathered for a picture while the teacher expressed her gratitude with a smile, she corralled her students back to where they needed to be and we were off again.
We made out way back to the main road in another attempt to find our Geocache. Looking for this Geocache led us on an unplanned adventure. The monk that set up this Geocache was friendly and excited to have foreign guests. We shared some tea and cookies and had our picture taken with our host. He was very interested to hear about us and where we were from. Upon telling him we were from Canada, our new friend decided he was going to practice his French with us which turned out to be better than I would have expected from a monk in the middle of central Myanmar.
There was a guest book filled with comments from travelers from all over which gave us a sense of how popular this Geocache was. He gave us a postcard with his mailing address so we could stay in touch. I have always wanted to incorporate something like this into a language arts project to also my students how we communicated long before things like email and phones ever existed.
One thing I have learned while traveling, whether it is in my own backyard or on the other side of the world, is that some times the things you are looking for lead you to find something much greater and more significant. Myanmar was full of great stories and many of those stories came from people we met along the way. Myanmar has many gems worth seeing including Inle Lake and the cave of Pindaya.

If you are interested in finding this geocache the link in below

If you are interested in learning more about The Ball is Round Society please don’t hesitate to checkout our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
• Twitter - @TBR_Society
• Facebook –

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