Few Yalies spend their Thursday afternoons jumping rope on Elm Street, but somehow last week I ended up doing just that. As the sun began to set, I found myself with the cast of Yale’s “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” rehearsing an opening number that features some pretty magnificent jump roping. It wasn’t long, however, until passersby noticed how dreadful college kids jump rope. One little girl, walking hand and hand with her mother, ran up to us and sweetly asked if she could try. “Yes!” we chimed. “Teach us how it’s done!” In a heart beat, she was jumping quickly, elegantly, and effortlessly; we were immediately schooled in childhood basics of Jump Rope 101.
I was hit with a surge of giddy delight (seriously); this is part of why I’m so ecstatic about Eli Africa! This June, I’ll embark on the journey of sharing theater with the youth of Mauritius. But I can’t help to think about how much wisdom and free-spirited goodness the youth there will share with our Eli Africa team, much like the eager jump-roping child on the streets of New Haven. As I prepare for my work in Africa, these children–whom I’ve not met and whose faces I don’t yet know–continue to serve as mighty vehicle for motivation (and giddy childlike anticipation!) Our work matters because these kids matter. Even in the simplest of ways, children are brimming with the power to shake and move their communities; and to leave a positive, lasting and unforgettable mark on the world (just like a five year old jump roper did on my Thursday afternoon.)