01:43 30 November 2015 Denver, Colorado GS Jade Barrett (csbnews.org correspondent)
«Only a well-fed, well-housed, well-schooled people can enjoy the blessings of liberty» – Fiorello La Guardia, 99th Mayor of New York City
It has been a month since Dr Donna Lombardini and I visited our good friend Paolo Clair in our beloved Padova, Italy. Whenever we come to visit Paolo – a highly esteemed teacher – arranges a visit to his school where we have the opportunity to interact with the many gifted students that attend. Monselice, about 25 km south of Padova is home to a great institute of learning, and our day is spent talking to these fine young people in English, providing them the experience of hearing how American’s express themselves in their native tongue (for the ones who misbehave, we set aside a few minutes to allow me to torture them with my Italian).
We have discovered that one of the best ways to engage the attention of our young charges is to expose them to our favorite charity, Heifer International (www.heifer.org). The scope of the work this Non-Governmental Organization has done for over 75 years is stupefying. Millions of people have been raised out of poverty since its inception, with millions more to come. One must visit the site to even begin to grasp the sheer enormity of their accomplishments.
When we first play the video from Alton Brown that describes Heifer’s work (sixty seconds that speaks to the soul), you can feel the shifting of attention from their friends, cell phones and the desire to take a nap (I remember how I responded to lecturers when I was 16) to realizing how little is actually required to change the life of people in need.
Cows, ducks, bees, fish, water buffalo, rabbits and other animals were represented on the buttons that we brought with us from Heifer Headquarters, and each member of our audience was asked to describe the benefits provided by the animal they received. It was a pleasure to listen to these young people start to speak with us in English as their excitement grew. It was a good day.
Bridge has afforded my family the opportunity to become friends with many special, gifted and great hearted people. It has also presented us with the chance to effect change in the world by pooling these great minds together. These chance meetings have resulted in literally millions of dollars and tens of thousands of volunteer services provided to worthy charities in addition to hundreds of business opportunities and employments secured by the community of players. The personal sense of reward a bridge athlete acquires from a hand well played is not the only benefit that is available to them, for their fellow competitors represent the pinnacle of the best and the brightest from every walk of life.
It is a worthy journey for a person of any age to embark on.