Good evening, Dr. Elish-Piper!
My name is Lisa Wajrowski, and I was one of the eight individuals to have been so blessed and privileged to go to Belize. It was honorable to represent NIU in Belize. It was a privilege to have been one of the few chosen to travel to Belize to foster gender equity and empower the women and girls through sport. To say “thank you” would just not suffice for how truly appreciative I am for this life changing experience and opportunity. Let me tell you what Belize means to me, and a little about the experience. Belize means the absolute WORLD to me. I can truly say this from the deepest depths of my heart and soul. As I write this, tears are beginning to form in my eyes; my heart and soul are still in Belize, not ever ready to leave. To say this was an experience of a lifetime just does not nearly begin to suffice. Getting on the plane to head to Belize, I was a nervous individual. I was timid, lacked confidence, and was ignorant to a world outside of my hometown. My life has been lived in a shell. I had very little exposure to teaching and coaching the youth. I worried when things didn’t align according to the plan; my ability to feel content in schedule and time variation was absent. The person getting off this plane is so beyond all those past qualities. My eyes, mind, heart, and deepest part of my soul have been opened and exposed to life’s truly greatest blessings. To feel the depths of true strength, confidence, inspiration, motivation and love I did is unparalleled to ALL else. This trip has made me realize I want my future to be spent inspiring the youth. My soul has been touched through touching the soul’s of young girls. Building connections with these young girls, and the other Belizeans has overfilled my heart with pure bliss, love, empowerment, strength, beauty, inspiration, euphoria, and unfathomable feelings of all else. Feelings I had never been able to feel before coming to Belize. NIU has taught me how to inspire the youth through such simplicity; placing a ball or object in these girls’ hands can mean volumes to them. Seeing the shining light, passion, joy, and empowerment in the young girls’ hearts during the clinics means everything more than the world to me. Brooklyn, a young girl who was much smaller than the rest of her peers, touched my heart the deepest. She came up to me during the clinic and was saddened because she could not do what the rest of the girls were doing. She said she wasn’t as big or strong as them. I took her under my wing; she was my sidekick for the day, showing her the ropes. We shared enthusiasm, passion, energy, excitement, and pure joy together that day. By the end of the clinic, she and the other young girls of the clinic told me they felt inspired and empowered. To know she, and the rest of the girls were able to feel these feelings to the depths they did was enough for me to feel just utterly blessed and thankful. Thankful for this unparalleled opportunity and experience. My outlook on life has already noticeably been changed. I truly learned what it means to adapt and conform to “curve balls.” I learned I am way more capable of what I set myself out to be; this trip truly pushed my personal limits. The first day of the summit when the clinics were about to begin, the gymnasium continually flooded with young, eager girls. The amount of girls that kept coming was more than any of us had planned for. We were so beyond thankful for this, but it meant we needed to adjust our plans. While my heart started to race, some of the Belizeans from the summit jumped right in to help me out. They realized this, too, was more than the BAEs had planned for. Their willingness and genuineness shined so brightly that day. Being able to connect and bond with Belizeans has been more than an honor. People like Kaya, Vindy, Enid, Selmo, Taralee, Angie, Precelia, Kim, Shane, Vinshae, and SO many others have opened my heart to life’s purest forms of unconditional love, genuineness, authenticity, and individuality. Having the ability to take all this knowledge, insight, experiences, and memories back with me will resonate in my heart and soul for forever. ️
Opportunities like these change students’ lives and truly touch their souls.
With much more than gratitude,