Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, SportsUnited Division
The University of Connecticut’s Global Training and Development Institute in the Office of Global Affiars was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, SportsUnited Division. UConn partnered with Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) in Hong Kong, S.A.R China develop and deliver a 2-way Professional Fellows exchange program. The International Sport Programming Initiative, Sport for Social Change, explored different uses for sport within society, particularly in youth sports. Ten Chinese participants were selected through a highly competitive, merit based process, and ten U.S. participants, including Dwayne Simmons, Program Director for America SCORES Boston, werematched based on interests and professional experience. The two-way exchange program involved activities in both the United States and Hong Kong. Each U.S. fellow was responsible for hosting a two and a half day U.S.-based job shadow from July 8 through July 10th. During the job shadow, Simmons introduced the Chinese Fellow Vincent Xu to America SCORES Boston in an informative and interactive way. Vincent was able to see SCORES’ social entrepreneurship, academic enrichment (through poetry and writing), and soccer curricula in action. In early January, the U.S. fellows travelled overseas with their cohort to attend workshops and participate in shadowing at their counterparts’ organizations in China. Simmons and Xu planned a 3 day Outdoor Education Camp (OEC). The camp was designed to address conflict resolution, teamwork, and communication. A total of 14 students (8 boys, 6 girls) registered for OEC during examination week in China.
Many of the SCORES principles were implemented and adopted at OEC. Simmons led a songwriting session where the students created their own song about the camp in Mandarin. Students also practiced social entrepreneurship through the “Great Grapefruit Challenge.” In this exercise, students were given a grapefruit and challenge to barter and exchange it for a more valuable item. There was a closing ceremony on the last day of camp to acknowledge the work of all the participants. Certificates of completion were distributed and representatives from the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan attended. Simmons states, “Despite the slight communication barrier, it was wonderful to experience the universal language of learning in China”. America SCORES Boston has a unique approach to youth development that is widely accepted and appreciated in all parts of the world. Xu and Simmons intentionally created a program that embedded academics with sports to help develop the whole child. This new concept for Hong Kong and Mainland China yielded a positive impact reported by parents and witnessed firsthand through the students.
Simmons reflects upon his experience, “I created many long lasting relationships with students in a short amount of time. I hope that I had the same effect that they have had on me.”