Following your passion is something Mommy was all about. She believed very strongly that we all were brought here for a reason. By doing something you enjoy and are passionate about, you maintain a peaceful mind. Furthermore, health is very important in the fight in preventing and battling cancer. We should keep our health as our top priority. My first guest post is from Omari Faulkner (yes my wonderful other half). Omari did such a great intro that without further ado, My first guest post!
Friends of Lightings Flower-
Just last year in 2012, my mother-in-law, Mable Rey, and I discussed in detail the importance of diplomacy missions and giving back to youth, both domestically and internationally. She was so excited about my first trip to Montenegro to take part in Georgetown’s 2012 Basketball Diplomacy Program. I love that she always spoke to me about how she saw basketball (and all sports) as a form of art and anyone blessed with her presence understood her love and appreciation for art.
Her connection to the earth was amazing. As we researched Montenegro together, she was amazed at the historical Old Olive Tree at Mirovica, which is claimed to be one of the oldest trees in the world, dating back more than 2000 years. She looked at me, and in her Mable voice says, “Oh my God! You have to bring me back some olives and olive oil!”
Days before the trip, Mama Rey was called home, her passing paused the world around us and I immediately knew, I could not make the trip to Eastern Europe. Then I thought about our conversations, I thought about what she would have wanted, I thought about how excited she was about this program and my love for Sports Diplomacy, and most importantly, I had to get her those olives and olive oil- they rest next to her ashes until this day and always will.
Mama Rey loved international travel, other cultures, and proclaimed they healed her in so many ways; therefore, whenever I travel internationally, I travel with a piece of her with me. Last year’s trip to Montenegro, I wore one of her beaded Asian inspired necklaces and this year, last week, I wore a leather bracelet she bought for me while in Mumbai, India.
Thank you Mama Rey for the inspiration, thank you for your beautiful daughter, and the lovely angels we have created together. You know just how much we miss your presence, but you remain alive in us all. Team Faulkner forever….
Georgetown 2013 Basketball Diplomacy Program
On Friday, August 9, 2013, myself and six other dedicated volunteers returned from Bar, Montenegro for yet another successful Georgetown University Basketball Diplomacy Program. With program support from the United States Embassy in Podgorica, Montenegro, and continued support from Georgetown University and men’s head basketball Coach Thompson, the diplomacy program continues to advance every year.
At this year’s camp, the students from the Balkan region were very impressive; their approach to developing relationships with other campers from neighboring countries and willingness to work hard were noticeable from day one. My former Georgetown teammate Sead Dizdarevic, a native of Montenegro, has led this camp for 6 years and continues to give back to his country’s youth and stress the importance of hard work, dedication, and volunteerism.
There were many highlights to this year’s camp, one being the volunteer project. The camp participants’ energy and enthusiasm was on full display as they cleaned the recreational area and neighboring park to a local handicap day home for small children and adults. The student athletes eagerly filled bags with trash and never once complained. A shining moment came when children playing nearby, joyfully joined in and began to grab rakes and bags, also becoming members of the cleanup crew. After 45 minutes of teamwork, the campers’ work was evident. They set a positive example.
On Wednesday night, all the Georgetown and local camp coaches played a full 40-minute basketball game against the Veteran Bar, Montenegrin basketball team (my first full game in almost 5 years). As the final buzzer sounded, we scored more points in the game, but the real winners were the Montenegro Veteran team; the team consisted of players ranging from ages of 45 up to 70+. They displayed the true essence of teamwork and the importance of physical fitness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout life. Their mental and physical health fully supported U.S. Dr. Wilbert Cusano’s presentation on healthy living, which he presented the first day of camp. I walked away from the game truly inspired to remain healthy and active my whole life.
On the last day of camp, we were honored to have the United States Ambassador to Montenegro Sue Brown to attend the closing ceremony and speak to the importance of cultural diplomacy and building relationships.
I personally would like to thank all the youth camp participants and coaches, the United States Embassy in Montenegro, Georgetown University, and all the financial contributors to this wonderful diplomacy mission. It was a pleasure to spend the week with a great group of devoted volunteers – former Georgetown women’s basketball players-Kenya Kirkland and Monica McNutt, former Georgetown men’s basketball players- Sead Dizdarevic and Amadou Kilkenny-Diaw; current Georgetown University strength and conditioning coach Cameron Williams and health practitioner, Dr. Wilbert Cusano.
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair. Sport speaks to people in a language they can understand.”- Nelson Mandela.