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Basketball Without Borders

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Courtesy of Brown Sports Information
Shae Fitzpatrick, Special Feature


Namaste!!!

What an absolutely incredible trip it has been thus far and it is only half way through! India is an unbelievable place. It is a virtual all-out assault on each and every one of your senses. Delhi is full of sights, sounds, smells, colors, and textures I have never experienced. There are animals walking everywhere coexisting with the people. India is an amazing place alive with vivid colors and constant sounds in a land occupied by one billion people. Sadly, every day you witness impoverished people living in slums you could not even imagine. Of course all the things you were told before you arrive, the swarming bugs, the searing heat, the potent smells are all so very true, but they all just add a little extra spice to this remarkable adventure.

The fact that I was truly in a very different place did not fully hit me until I emerged from the Indira Gandhi National Airport in Delhi. I quickly stepped into throngs of hundreds and hundreds of people crowded outside of the airport doors. It became immediately apparent that as fascinated as I was with the people and culture I encountered there was a definite focus of curiosity directed back at me. Yes, my hope was we would learn much about each other and now I can't write things down in my journal fast enough.

My first day here we had the opportunity to put on a basketball clinic at the New Delhi YMCA for a group of local girls and boys. It certainly started the trip off on an incredible note because it was truly amazing to be able to share my love of basketball with these young who live on the other side of the world. Most of these kids have had very little access or opportunity to play basketball, but yet they were so eager and excited to learn. The sport of basketball is giving me an opportunity to communicate and interact with these kids, which in turn allows me the chance to learn so much about different lifestyles, their cultures, and their individual stories.

Although it is something I have done a hundred times with my Brown hoop teammates, teaching 40 Indian girls and boys a simple Brown cheer and seeing them do it in unison on a stark outdoor court in South Delhi was to me a special moment. We worked with the children at night because it is so incredibly hot during the day. There are only two outdoor courts in all of Delhi and we were singing and shooting on one of them. Tomorrow 50 kids from 17 different countries throughout Asia and beyond regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity, start arriving for the main Basketball Without Borders camp kicking off on Thursday. This diverse young group will mesh with us to play basketball, learn, and have fun using basketball as a platform to educate them on HIV/AIDS, healthy living, and the value of teamwork. Once these kids go back to their own countries they can work to promote the game of the basketball and the channel the enormous power of sport.

To read Shae's complete blog and a photo gallery of the trip, head to BrownBears.com.

Shae Fitzpatrick '10 is a member of the women's basketball team and president of the Brown SAAC. She is a recipient of a Royce Fellowship at Brown awarded to advance the study of sport and society. Working with Kerrissa Heffernan at Brown's Swearer Institute, Shae has partnered with the National Basketball Association and its Basketball Without Borders program to travel to New Delhi, India to work and experience first hand the NBA's efforts to promote HIV prevention, promote sportsmanship and fair play and demonstrate basketball fundamentals. While there, Shae will have a very busy schedule of responsibilities supporting her operations team and the NBA players and coaches as they engage in a wide variety of community and educational projects including the launch of the "Literacy India" program for young children. Shae and her NBA team are working in conjunction with the Government of India, the Basketball Federation of India and the International Federation of Basketball (FIBA) to encourage positive social change in education, health and wellness.