As a Tufts University student, I've come to appreciate the unique blend of academic rigor, social connectivity, and personal growth that campus life offers. With a diverse community made up of students from all corners of the world, Tufts is a hub of diverse perspectives and ideas, both inside and outside the classroom. What's more, the plethora of extracurricular activities on offer help transform the campus into a home away from home, where lasting memories are made.
It was during a 20-hour journey from Urubamba, Cusco, Lima, Miami, and finally, Boston that I had the pleasure of meeting Shyaka Pascal, a mechanical engineering student at Tufts. Pascal introduced me to Tufts Pick-Up, a unique and diverse group of soccer players and students at Tufts University. The group's rules were simple and clear: "Anyone is welcome to play! We tryna have fun and play good competitive soccer. We have zero tolerance for homophobic, racist, or sexist language and welcome people of all identities."
Joining Tufts Pick-Up was a revelation for me, not just because of the opportunity to play soccer but also because of the meaningful and long-lasting networks I formed through the group. Bello Fields and Gantcher Fitness Center are the homes for Tufts Pick-Up, and it's where I often go to unwind after a long week of classes.
What I love most about Tufts Pick-Up is how it takes me back to my childhood days as a pastoralist kid growing up in Samburu, Northern Kenya. Soccer was a favorite game among my nomadic brethren, and we made footballs out of socks and sacks since no one could afford real footballs, and even if we could, we couldn't get to the market because we lived upcountry. We played barefoot, in open fields and dirt patches, using the owner of the ball's rules to determine who played and who didn't. The game only ended when everyone was tired. Despite the lack of equipment, soccer remained a vital source of joy and recreation for us, the young folks, "Layiok" in the language of my people, Samburu.
Tufts Pick-Up also brings back memories of my Tufts Civic Semester group's visit to the Paru Paru community, a culturally rich community in the high Andes. The Andes are some of the highest mountains in the world, and Paru Paru was stunning, with its blue and windy lagoons. The nights were bitterly cold, but bonfires provided warmth. After a fishing exercise on our last day, we had a soccer match with the local youth. It was a 5v5 game, and each team bet 15 soles, for a total of 30 soles for the winner. We ended up playing five games, winning two and losing three. This was one of the most memorable experiences we had in Peru.
In conclusion, Tufts University's student life is an exhilarating and dynamic experience that offers endless opportunities for personal growth, social connectivity, and academic success. Whether joining student groups or engaging with the community, there's always something new to explore and discover at Tufts. I feel fortunate to be part of such a vibrant and welcoming community and look forward to seeing what the future holds.