Our portable hard drive has proved to be one of the best things we brought with us to Uganda. The dozens of movies and TV shows we brought or acquired since we've been in country have been an absolute gift on nights when we just felt like vegging out and watching something. Since the sun sets every night around seven and we aren't supposed to be out after dark, some nights get long with not a lot to do! While we love reading, playing games, cooking, and talking, sometimes it's just nice to have a movie and popcorn! Thanks to our hard drive, we've seen some great new TV shows (Modern Family!) and movies, and loved watching some classics as well! (Sound of Music last week!)
Last night we scoured the hard drive and chose a movie that Ryan had seen before coming to Uganda, but I had not - We Are Marshall. While I am not a huge sports movie fan, I do enjoy a "feel good underdog" movie every now and then. Before watching the movie, I actually had no idea even the basic premise of the movie. (As evidenced by the fact that as the football team got on the plane that would ultimately crash and result in everyone's death, I was talking about how exciting it must have been to get to take a plane trip with all your friends and teammates! Ryan looked at me and said, "Do you not know what this movie is about?!" Ooops!) But, as it went on, I thought I had a pretty good idea of how the movie would progress: tragedy hits small town, unlikely coach steps up to lead a ragtag group of players, despite adversity they succeed with unprecented sucess, and all live happily ever after. I realize this may be an oversimplified view, but it's the jist of movies like this, right?
We Are Marshall surprised me though! Although it had some of the typical twists and turns I have come to expect (and, in all honesty, really enjoy!) of such movies, the end was a surprise. For those of you who haven't seen the movie recently, it ends with a back and forth game that results in a crazy pass and the first win of the season for the team. The town rallies behind them and different characters come to terms with their grief from the tragedies they have suffered. It's a good ending! But, before the credits roll, a bit more information is shared about the Marshall University Thundering Herd's success that year. After the exciting win that ends the movie, the team went one to win.....drumroll please....only one more game! No big championship, no great victory, just one more win. In fact, they didn't become a very notable team until more than a decade later. By that time, the coaches who had led the return of the Marshall Football program were long gone, the players had all graduated, and the town had moved on from the shadow of the 1970 plane crash.
So...it got me thinking about Peace Corps. While I think many volunteers hope that as they move around the world to serve communities in need, they will indeed have an experience worthy of a "feel good underdog" movie. And, undoubtedly, some of them do! But, for the majority of us, our service may only result in one or two wins - no great championships, no shiny trophies. But, I think it's important for us to remember that those one or two wins really are huge! Just as the Marshall Football team cherished those two wins as a chance to get their football program back on its feet and help a town recover from tragedy, our one or two "small" Peace Corps wins might make a world of difference to the people we live and work around, and to our lives as well!
The coach of the new Thundering Herd football team, Jack Lengyel, only coached at Marshall from 1971-1974. In that time, he racked up a 9-33 record. Now, I'm no football whiz, but that's not a great record. Yet, he laid a foundation that would ultimately lead the team to greater victories many years later.
We will be Peace Corps volunteers from 2011-2013. Who knows what our win-loss record will be by the time we will leave. I guess we will have to hope for those one or two wins, and realize that after we head home we may leave behind the foundation for greater things in years to come. It's comforting to know that even if our service doesn't result in a "feel good underdog movie," we can still have confidence that we're doing good work that will have an impact, despite its challenges.
So...after finishing We Are Marshall last night, I felt inspired! And I thought I'd share some of that inspiration with you!
Thanks for reading! Love and miss you all!