BY VAHE OUZOUNIAN
A ball and a field. Not anything written or spoken. A ball is all you need to unite people from completely different parts of the world. I have been to many different parts of Armenia with Youth Corps by now. My Armenian is not the most fluent, and I do occasionally have problems communicating with the campers, resulting in less of a bond with them than if I could speak more fluently. However, one thing has remained the same wherever I’ve gone. The children can react differently when you teach them songs, give educationals, or talk to them about different things like men and women having equal rights. However, once I bring out a soccer ball, the same thing has happened in three different camps. The fact that the children and I are from different countries, speak differently, have unique issues in our lives that are polar opposites from each other, and really don’t share much in common other than being Armenian, melts away.
For the children and I, even if only for half an hour each day, once the balls rolls out and the game starts, our worlds change. There is no impending threat from Azerbajian for the kids. There is no war-torn village in our minds. Being from Texas, having been raised around Armenian-American culture, and not having gone to an Armenian school five days a week are no more. What my parents do, what university I go to, and what I’m studying is irrelevant. The details that make up who we are in our lives don’t matter on the field. While we’re out there, the children and I communicate in an entirely different way. A tongue that can bring together anyone in this world regardless of where they’re from or what they do. Something that lets us have no problems understanding each other, unlike something spoken. That language isn’t English, nor is it Armenian. That language is the one of the beautiful game. The language of the ball and the field.