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Bryan Alvarez (NJ, USA)

I was fortunate enough to be selected by project beisbol and was given an opportunity to go to Colombia. In this trip I made a lot of close friends in the participants and Colombians I met. The exchange program allowed me to see the restrictions of poverty and how children around the world long for the things we, as Americans take for granted (clean water, proper education, etc.). In general, I realized how good life is here. I complain about the little things, but seeing what the Colombian kids have to endure made me realize that all these luxuries around me should be valued. The experience humbled me and made me a better person because I saw how after months, these kids came to my town and still showed the same love as when I visited them and even brought me gifts. When I think about it, the experience that changed me the most was visiting Tierra Bomba. Seeing kids play their hearts out on sandy fields without caring about their equipment was inspiring. They didn’t play for fame or to boast, but instead they played for the love of the game. I saw children of all ages living in true poverty, but they never asked for a dime, instead they asked for my name and a way to keep in touch. During both sides of the exchange, I saw the impact that Project Beisbol has had on these amazing kids. They spoke great things about the program and how it goes the extra mile in any way it can. Never did they even think about seeing the Statue of Liberty, a spring training game, or even meeting icons like Jed Lowrie and other ballplayers, but most tragically, they never thought they would see me or my friends again, and this was truly heartbreaking. The communities I visited have benefited from working with the program in many ways. Children got to see and work with Americans, the coaches I met on the trip all showed pride in their kids no matter the situation, and the love everyone shared to the participants was as if they were my family. The program works wonders.