This I Believe

Paul - brentwood, Tennessee
Entered on December 12, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Learning How to Care

What is caring? I feel that caring is something that a person does to make someone feel loved inside. To feel a sense of happiness and comfort, or even someone who may lend you a few dollars for gas and some food. My senior year of high school I met a student name Alex Equriewi he was from Nigeria, Africa and he taught me all there is to know about caring. He played football my junior and senior year in high school I thought a guy like this would never become my friend let alone my teammate.

Alex came to our school in the summer of the beginning of my junior year. He came into the locker room and said,” Coach I play football” in his African accent. My first impression was “Who is this kid? He can’t play football. He can barely speak English.” As we got to know him it was interesting to talk to him about Africa and his life back home. We weren’t sure why he was here and where he lived, and even what grade he should be in. As we went through the summer workouts Alex continued to stay with it and worked really hard. His English started to improve by being around us, but him trying to become a football player on the other hand was a different story.

As the season went on we began to know Alex a lot better. Alex would tell us how he had to hunt for his food in Africa and he how only ate meat and rice. He talked about his mom who still lived in Africa at the time, and he was living here in Tennessee with his father. The more we learned about his life the more we felt sorry for him. During practice we would try and get Alex to teach us his African language but it was too complicated to understand. For me, I realized how lucky I was to have food on a table, clothes to wear, and a shelter over my head.

As our season went on Alex became very popular around our school. Many people opened up to him and loved him cause of his background and how caring he was towards others. I called some of my friends and ask them to describe Alex in one word they said, “Funny, outgoing, oblivious, clueless, goofy, and optimistic. During football season we had senior football dinners on Thursday and he would come and be the life of the party. I will have to say I have never seen a human being eat as much food as he could at such an incredible rate. He became loved by our team with all his goofy nicknames he had for the coaches and the teammates. During games that we were winning by a lot we would ask the coaches if they would put Alex in at running back. I never seen a person smile so big and be so satisfied for just being able to go into a game for a few plays. Even our students in the student section even made t-shirts for Alex with his name and picture on it. But to Alex it was more then just a game of football it was being around a group of people that he loved and was loved by.

I would never think Alex would ever play an influence in my life and our football team, but he did. He taught me a lot about my life in learning how to care for people and the things I should appreciate. Through this friendship Alex has taught me that caring and loving people goes so much further then just putting on a smile everyday. Also not to be quick to judge cause that was the first thing I did with Alex. The best thing about Alex was he did not just impact my life and my teammates, but coaches’, teachers, parents, and students. It is funny to think that a guy from Nigeria could play such a big role in a high school and a group of football players who probably don’t even know where Nigeria is. So remember to care for people cause you never know when the next Alex Equriewi will come into your life, and have an impact on others so treat them with love and care.