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Published: September 28th 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008:
Today was the first day of the new season of baseball players. At 9 AM this morning Sigitas picked me up from Viktorija’s place and we headed to the schools to go class to class speaking about baseball and inviting them to come and try it out. We were going to two primary schools where we have been before, one of the schools being the school where our teams train in the wintertime. We decided that, since I now speak Lithuanian fairly well, I would be the one to do the talking about the baseball program in Kaunas and how we would like to have the kids come out and try baseball. I was a bit nervous, but it actually went quite well. Once I had finished doing one class, I felt totally comfortable and fine speaking Lithuanian in front of the students. I was pretty proud of myself for my ability to speak to them, for what I could say and how freely I could speak, make up words, etc…….
While visiting one of the schools I passed in the halls one kid, a kid I recognized from working with the little leaguers (baseball) the previous season. He had also attended the summer camp where I taught baseball one summer ago. I stopped and said hello to him. He is one of those kids who, in some ways, seems like more of a little kid than most kids his age, but in other ways seems more adult. He has a toughness, a roughness about him. Like he’s already lived a lot in his short 11 year-old life. I think in Lithuanian you might say that he is ‘kietas’ (which means ‘cool’ or ‘hard’). When you speak with him he treats you like his equal—he doesn’t ‘speak up’ to you, he just talks. I ask him how he’s been and why he does not come to baseball practice anymore. He tells me that he was thrown out of baseball. I asked him by whom, and he said Macola (who was his coach the previous year). I asked him why, what he had done, and he told me because he said to Macola ‘eiktu nachui’ which is the strongest of insults you can use to insult someone (I’ll leave it up to you all to do the trainslation….). It was so funny the straight/direct way in which he said this. “Ok, then,” I said. “Well do you miss baseball?” “Not really,” he replied. I was sort of speechless as to what to say to the boy, so I just said “well good luck, see you around” as I hurried down the hall to catch up with Sigitas, who was looking for our first classroom to visit.
On a brighter note, in visiting just two schools we had about 25 new children come out to try baseball, about 15 of which after one month are still coming to practice. This is a great result; last year we visited double the number of schools/classrooms and attracted about the same number of children. Now the challenge is to keep all of those new kids involved and interested……
COMING UP: strange encounters with Lithuanian Police 😊
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