By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/11/09
Connor McCann has dealt with his share of injuries and bad luck in the past year – but after a summer mission in Africa he can only see the positives in life.
In June and July the Episcopal Academy sophomore was part of a group of 13 students and three teachers from EA that went to a remote northwestern village in Tanzania to deliver donated food and clothes to adults and children through a program run by the Mika Foundation.
McCann has made community service a major part of his life. He had gone on church missions to Washington D.C. and the inner-city in Philadelphia. But the opportunity to go to Africa was most appealing – and most revealing.
“I think it was a humbling experience,” said McCann. “To see how little some people have. I felt a responsibility then – and more so now – to help out.
“We lived in a small hut with mosquito nets; but it was much nicer than the normal living situation (for the natives). You couldn’t drink the water so we had to pick up jugs in Kenya. The food wasn’t as bad as I expected; but it wasn’t nearly as good as Americans get.”
McCann said his main job was to give out the many boxes of clothes and food that had been collected by schools and institutions around the Main Line area. He also got to teach English – he noted that most can speak it fluently by high school age – and some mathematics to 20 students aged 11.
He also spent time with many other children doing various activities, including dance – although he admits he is not the greatest dancer
“They loved having us there,” said McCann. “We also donated a lot of clothes that the school had collected the last couple of years, when we switched campuses. We took school supplies, books and musical instruments and distributed them.”
Early in the 2009 lacrosse season McCann was thrust into a starting role for the Churchmen when injuries hit their defense. He later tore the meniscus in his knee and missed time at the end of the year as well as most of the summer season.
McCann returned to play one tournament with the Duke’s Lacrosse Club, but then reinjured his knee at the beginning of summer football camp in August. He said he plans to be back for the lacrosse season. Either way, his experience last summer has helped him appreciate everything he has.
“Seeing how little some people across the world have, and how happy they are with so little makes you appreciate your life more,” he said. “I feel guilty, and I feel the need to help out. I would recommend this trip to anyone.”