Dr. Josh Armstrong
25 July 2022
Open and Ready to Receive
During my time in Zambia, many relationships were developed along the way. I have
cherished these connections and have found it special to share stories with my family and friends
about the Zambezi community, and their ability to make me feel welcome and at home.
Something that the reading “Beyond Guilt Trips” taught me as I began this experience was to
“listen well, honor peoples stories, open up, and be ready to receive” (Taranath, 2019, p.164).
This idea of listening, generating mutual respect, and being able to stop and pause has really
allowed me to make the most of my experience. The concept of being open and ready to receive
is something I feel I have grown in during this journey. I like to describe this quote with the
image in your head of a fist that is open verses closed. With a closed fist image and a closed
mind, one is building walls for themselves that only limit and close themselves off to potential
encounters. With an open fist image and an open mind, one is ready to receive people,
conversations, and moments that they were not expecting. That is simply the beauty of being
open to whatever comes your way, and being able to take it all in. I firmly believe I have soaked
up this experience by being able to let myself take a breath, take in the beauty around me, and
dive into the relationships in Zambezi.
In this paper, I will start by describing the impact of Debby Kasoma who has inspired me
with his incredible way of motivating individuals with a shared vision, Kelly a music producer
who challenged me to find my why in what I do, and Joseph a new friend at Falconer Home who
showed me a new perspective. Then, I will conclude this paper as I dive into my perspective
working with the Zam City and health teams as well as my future advice for the next
Debby Kasoma is a visionary and a leader that has grit for change. Debby started an
organization called Zam City Academy which is a youth initiative focused on promoting
educational wellness and bringing children together through sport. While I was in Zambezi, I had
the opportunity to work alongside Debby to help with Sports For Life, facilitate soccer trainings
with Zam City, and learn from his leadership style. As described in Salsa Soul and Spirit leaders
have a “fire ignited by their compassion, connection to their people, and commitment to
improving the lives of future generations” (Bordas, 2012, p.129). I believe that Debby does just
this. Personally, I have witnessed in every conversation with Debby that he has a fire in him to
do more, grow more, and be more, by helping change lives of people around him. In noticing
Debby’s leadership and the way children look up to him, I asked Debby what leadership or being
a leader means to him. He described that “leadership is a process with influence. While a leader
is a person who creates and nurtures more leaders. A great leader poses a clear vision, is
courageous to break odds, has integrity, honesty, humility, and clear focus” (Debby Kasoma).
This to me describes exactly the type of leader Debby is and the leaders he cultivates in his
players. This assignment asks us to describe our learning from the people and experiences we
have had. For me, I have learned by observing Debby and the way he communicates. He has an
energy and cultivated passion for soccer and educating children that makes others want to join in
on whatever he sets his mind to. Debby also described another way he sees leadership by
describing an image to me. He depicted leadership as a group of people running together and
then one person runs ahead of the rest to see where they are headed. He mentioned how a leader
is set apart from the group and leads the way for the rest of the team. The individual running
ahead of the group is the person who leads and brings the rest along as he sees what their future
could be. This is very similar to a passage in “Who is a Servant Leader”. Greenleaf says “I am
mindful of the long road ahead before these trends. We are not there yet. But I see encouraging
movement on the horizon” (Greenleaf, 2008, p.23). I believe that this is a great depiction of
leadership that reminds me of the conversation I had with Debby as he so described the image of
leadership. Leadership as I have seen through Debby is being a person with a vision and
convincing others that there is a horizon ahead. Even as we left Zambezi, he described so many
things he was hoping to accomplish by the next time more Zags arrive. He is a determined man
set out to create and build the program as we have already seen in his recent news to implement
Sports of Life activities in 20 schools. Debby knows that change takes time, and the road may be
long before his dreams and goals may become a reality, but his ability to focus on what’s
possible is the encouraging movement towards the horizon. I am encouraged and inspired by the
way he leads, and I will always cherish our time together.
Kelly motivates others to dig deep and find their “why” in every day. Kelly is a young
man that I met at Sports for Life. He is an experienced music producer who was helping as a DJ
for the event. He shared that both of his parents had passed recently and that he was raising his
two younger siblings at home who were five and eight years old. He described how much family
means to him and that they are a big motivating force for his career in music. Kelly’s father was
a music producer who taught him originally how to produce. Kelly expressed how he does not
know where he would be without music. Music fills him up, makes him feel confident in his
abilities, and makes him feel close to his parents. I learned that my career and what I seek after in
my life should align with my passions. Kelly made a comment like “why would you not do what
you love”. He also challenged me to describe my “why” to others. I have learned especially in
leadership that our “why” for doing things is important because it is a driving force for our lives
and how we lead. In Salsa Soul and Spirit, Greenleaf described that our “why is the central core
from which all other actions flow” (Greenleaf, 2008, p.120). I believe that Kelly has a strong
“why” and reason to make each day count. He shared his deep desire to help his brothers and
sisters get through education and find things they enjoy, in addition to his own desire to carry on
the legacy that his father started. My conversations with Kelly have been a point of reflection for
me as I have returned home and juggle my plans for the future. In the end, Kelly is a strong man
that has taught me that my “why” matters to who I am, how I act, and can influence those around
Joseph has showed me a perspective of seeing life as it could be, instead of how it is.
Joseph is a young man about twenty years old at Falconer Home who helps run and manage the
administrative side of the orphanage. The orphanage currently has 52 children, and they have no
maximum, as they want to take care of everyone. Joseph shared with me more of his personal
story as we walked along the grounds with Simon and other Gonzaga students. His mother died
of medical complications and his father died by a crocodile. He was brought to the orphanage
when he was two months old and has been there since. Joseph shared that he feels the
responsibility for helping take care of the children, as those at the Falconer Home have helped
raise him. However, he does have plans to go to college in August and will be away for a couple
years before he hopes to come back and be of more help. His dream is to one day run Falconer
Home as he has learned so much from Simon. Joseph has mentioned that Simon is like a father
figure to him, and that everything he has learned is from Simon. As I stated, Joseph showed me
the mindset of seeing life as it could be, instead of how it is. This is the optimistic and motivated
side which helped him see beyond his circumstance. He described that living through faith and
living one step ahead has driven him to where he is now. The quote I described in the
introduction of being open and ready to receive is exactly how I feel about my time at the
Falconer Home. I did not have any expectations going in and I feel this gave me the ability to be
in the moment and enjoy the special encounters of Simons gentleness and meaningful
conversations with Joseph.
Overall, Debby, Kelly, and Joseph have all taught me something through who they are
and how they live out their lives. I am grateful for all three of their friendships that have
developed during my time in Zambia and for their friendships that have continued afterwards. I
believe that all my conversations and moments with these individuals were had with an open fist
mindset and ready to receive, therefore, allowing me to learn so much in unexpected and
In my time in Zambezi, I am very grateful to have been apart of the health team in the
morning and the Zam City team in the afternoons. I feel this combination allowed me to be in
places and spaces that were meant for me to be apart of. In this next section, I will describe my
advice for both teams and for the future students.
For future Zags that work in the Zam City group, I recommend that they come into the
trip expecting nothing. While this is very hard advice to give, or do in life in general, I would say
just to try. I think we have, or I have, a tendency to like having a plan or project in mind and then
executing it. Or we tend to overemphasize on our output and underemphasize on the process.
This is true in my case, as I was trying to plan or gage what I was supposed to be helping with,
instead of just letting things happen. I think if we are so focused on doing, sometimes we may
miss the point of the process if we are too structured. I think in a similar way to me, some
Americans, and most Gonzaga students at least, are very much doers. However for this trip, that
mindset of trying to come in and “fix or help” something even when one does not know what the
community needs, wants, or truly wishes can potentially do more harm than good. I also think
that the fast-paced enviornment of America has ingrained that in us. While not a bad thing, we
must remember that not all countries have the same tendencies as those who live in America. I
would suggest for the sports group to have a few calls with Debby to get to know him and see if
there is anything that he has in mind that he would like you to plan for. However, for the most
part, this team is more about relationship and having fun than coaching competitive soccer or
planning anything concrete. I would recommend diving into the experience, getting to know the
kids, and see if there are pockets in which you can help Debby out. Some of us helped coach
practices, some assisted, one helped with the website, one helped gather soccer supplies from
home, but together, we all pitched in where we needed too.
For future Zags working with the health team, I would encourage using your voice. I
would recommend giving a voice to what interests you, and I am sure you can find something
that aligns with your interests. I think the ability to see different wards and units of the Zambezi
District hospital, other clinics, and the other diverse experiences was very interesting for
someone hoping to go into healthcare. For this team, I would really encourage asking questions.
The healthcare settings that you will have the opportunity to see, really do not seem to have
parameters, restrictions, or privacy, especially when you are there. If you want to help with
something or do something, just ask! Also just be ready to jump in because that is the best way to
be exposed to a variety of people, tasks, and opportunities that come up.
Lastly, advice I recommend for everyone is to read “Beyond Guilt Trips” before the trip.
There is a passage on page 161 that I find to be very significant that describes the beauty in
slowing down and just being. This passage says,
“Many of us are realizing that there’s a beauty and value in being able to rest
momentarily that is underrated or more likely, devalued. Moments of breath are critical to
resting, for noticing and listening can make our heads and hearts ache and break. As we
rush from one thing to the next and find our thoughts tossed around, a deep cleansing
breath encourages us to slow down our pace and locate ourselves amidst the noise in
which we’re surrounded. The breath provides us a gentle salve to root us in the moment,
a mindful reminder to follow the ins and outs of air that travel through our body”
(Taranath, 2019, p.161).
This passage describes the simple power of a breath. I think this can help one recenter
themselves before a conversation, when feeling overwhelmed, and taking a moment to pause,
breathe, and take in their surroundings. I give this passage as advice for everyone going on the
trip because your role is simply, to be. To exist, to slow down, to breathe, and to help where help
is called or asked for.
In the end, this trip is something that is constantly on my mind that has challenged me to
slow down, think critically, and how to live with fire in my soul. I am very grateful and look
forward to sharing stories as we all arrive back in Spokane.
Bordas, Juana. "Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age, Second Edition". 2012.
Greenleaf, Robert K. “Who Is a Servant Leader?” The Servant as Leader, Greenleaf Center for Servant
Leadership, Westfield, IN, 2008.
Taranath, Anu, and Ronald Bolisay. Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World. Between
the Lines, 2019.
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