My name is Whitney Summer Boyd and I had the pleasure of joining the F3B team to Rwanda and Kenya during the summer of 2008. Hired by founder of F3B, Diana Tyson, my job was to serve as the group’s journalist and to capture- in my own words- the journey of a small group of female high school basketball players from New Jersey, as they interacted, learned, and bonded with high school aged female basketball players in Kenya and Rwanda. At the time of the trip, I was entering my senior year at Hampton University, and it was also my duty while traveling with F3B to serve as a mentor for the high school girls and to help them keep up with their own personal journals throughout their days in Africa.
The two-week adventure began with spending a week in Kigali, Rwanda, where we resided at a compound overlooking the beautiful hills known of Rwanda’s landscape, just five minutes away from the Kigali Airport. While in Rwanda, our group was assigned with two Rwandese translators who helped us communicate with the almost 20 chosen high school basketball players from the rural cities of the country. After a string of name games used to break the ice between the girls, we were all humbled to find out that many of the girls from Rwanda traveled more than three hours on foot to participate in the F3B basketball program. It was clear that the girls in Rwanda were part of the looming amount of impoverished teens in Rwanda that were still being impacted by the affects of the 1994 genocide that left thousands dead, jobless, and homeless. I knew little about basketball, so when the girls took a break from playing, I enjoyed listening to the Rwanda girls tell their tales of horror, strength, and overcoming odds (all in broken English) to the American girls. I couldn’t help but feel strengthened by the young women’s stories and appreciated the scheduled adventures Diana set aside for us to have a chance to briefly see the country. Not only did we get a chance to see a concentration camp used during the genocide as well as visit a local orphanage, but several of us took a trip to go gorilla trekking in their natural habitats.
Kenya’s adventure was quite different in a parallel way. Where in Rwanda we had the luxury of comfortable housing while working with rural Rwanda girls with limited education, when we arrived to Kenya, we resided at the Moi Girls School in a bunk style setting and the chosen high school girls of Kenya were sharp, educated, and eager to learn about their American visitors. Aside from watching the American and Kenyan girls bond through intense rounds of competitive basketball, but I also watched as the girls played a round of basketball for school children in the Kibera slums, which is the second largest urban slum in Africa. I saw with each passing day the American girls grow more humbled with their opportunity for travel abroad. With each passing day, I too felt so appreciative for the F3B program and how it changed my perception of African natives- who, I found, were more proud of their county and their land than I previously expected and also more aware of American politics and social structures than most Americans that I know!
Two years later, I still find myself making references to my two short weeks with Diana and the F3B team and the many lessons I learned while traveling with this group. As a result of this experience, I better understand how to work and remain professional under intense conditions due to the long work days while abroad. I also have a deeper cultural appreciation for the people of Kenya and Rwanda as I had a chance to watch how mentally strong these young girls are despite their limited options in life. I fully support everything that Diana is doing to further expand the cultural understanding between American and girls of Africa and I wish the F3B program continued success.
Whitney Summer Boyd
Three Female Ballers, 2008
Whitney Summer: firstname.lastname@example.org