Pickleball Trip to Japan

DSC_5755AI try not to use my blog very often for personal endorsements or business purposes. However, rarely do you get to do what you’re interested in and passionate about as your job. For myself, taking a pickleball trip to Japan is just that. I am currently in the process of moving to Japan, where I want to help people have the vacation of a lifetime, experience the real Japan and have an adventure in the process.

Pickleball is also a great sport to be involved with. I think it’s starting to rally a generation of baby-boomers off their couches into a healthier, more active, and more social lifestyle. And younger generations are following.

With that, I want to my readers know about two exciting developments in my recent life. First, I am starting a company called Travel Nagano, see the facebook page here. The website is not quite there yet, but I have a blog, travelnagano.wordpress.com, which, like this blog I have been neglecting as of late.

Second, I am involved with a couple of the nation’s top pickleball players to bring a pickleball reconnaissance mission to Japan. We are looking for evangelical pickleball players who want to spread the sport, want to get better by learning from the best and are interested in learning about another culture with insight from tour guides who have lived in Japan for over a decade. You might also be asked by your fellow Americans to scout the future global competition…

10464351_10152551400018637_8169661294252424377_n 10.48.54 AMPlease let me know if you would be interested in something like this and I will send you more details.

Contact: pickleballdaniel@gmail.com

Dates: October 19-27, 2015 (This is time in Japan, excluding flights)

Price: $1950.00 (Does not include airfare)

There are a limited number of spaces available on this trip. The final number has not been decided but it will most likely be 15-20. Please let us know as soon as possible to ensure your place on this amazing trip!

World_Japan_Grand_Gate__Itsukushima_shrine__Miyajima__Japan_007871_

Project Update

My time in Kenya has dwindled down to less than two weeks. It’s been a crazy adventure, full of tragedy, challenges and triumphs. At first, it felt like my trip would continue forever. But as the cliché goes, time flies and I’m left with many things still to accomplish. I also felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of our project, but realized that there is no other way than to take things one step at a time. As we’ve faced difficult times and challenges, I have often been reminded of Cormack McCarthy’s quote about writing. “I’m not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide seems hardly worth doing.”

As you might know, I am here in Kenya starting an aquaponics farming business at a church/school property in urban Nairobi. Calling it Uzima Farm (Life in Swahili), we are attempting to create something green and healthy and profitable in a Nairobi slum community, introducing a new technology and employing locals in the process. Hence the overwhelming magnitude of our project.

Our greenhouse and aquaponics system has been built, despite a weeklong setback when our greenhouse manager’s wife suddenly passed away. Today, we finished putting the pond liner in our grow bed and added water. After that, we will add catfish and be ready to start growing food. We also have a soil farming section, where we have laid drip irrigation lines and mixed soil with manure. I apologize for being a bit technical – basically we are encouraged by our progress and hopeful about the possibilities.

Filling up the Grow Bed

Filling up the Grow Bed

There is, however, still much work to be done. The real proof of our concept is whether my business partner Jacquie and I can remotely help locals manage the aquaponics farm, grow healthy organic food and make money. We don’t want to be another non-profit project in Africa: we want to be a business that creates jobs, grows food and restores dignity to places where before, there was only charity. We don’t see Kenyans as helpless victims to be saved, but as intelligent, hard-working individuals to be trained and given the opportunity to prosper.

It’s funny, 3 years ago as a Senior in college I wrote about building infrastructure rather than giving food aid to increase prosperity in Africa. See my article in the Other Writings section of this blog. Through this journey, I feel that God has brought me full circle, making me put my money where my mouth is and testing to see if I am really committed to creating change. It has been much more difficult than writing a paper. I don’t know about the outcome of our project, heck I don’t even know when I will return to Africa, but I’m glad I stayed the course and saw this through. I leave you with some wisdom from Theodore Roosevelt:

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Thanks for reading and joining us on this adventure at The Food Source. To read more and receive email updates, please click on the “subscribe” button on the right side of this page.

Comparing Cultures: Sharing is Caring

One of the biggest differences I notice when traveling to Kenya is the socioeconomic status that I automatically have. White people are assumed to have money (which is generally true since they have money to fly to Africa). Nonetheless, the stereotype bothers me.

When I lived here, I was once told on a public bus that my fare was double because “my skin is the color of money”. People laughed and I refused to pay more than anyone else, but I realized that the attitude was indicative of people’s attitudes towards Westerners in general. “Buy me lunch” and “What did you bring me” are phrases you will hear often.

This has bothered me because it’s so different from what I am used to. A Japanese person would probably starve to death before asking you for a handout. Americans usually split things 50/50 and don’t ask for much either. Besides the fact that people generally have more money in Japan and America, I come from cultures where what you earn is yours to keep.

African culture is different. It’s tribal and family-oriented. Everything the head of a family earns is dispersed among the members of the family, at times even distant relatives. This is a way of creating social capital so that in times of trouble, you have someone else to rely on. Since white people have money, it is a natural extension of this culture to ask us for it in times of need.

We have also perpetuated the idea that we bring free money by doing projects, building businesses and giving aid with no accountability, often to the detriment of African countries. If you want to read a lot more about this, see my Other Writings section where I talk about how aid played a part in destabilizing The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

When it comes to money, I’m not saying that African culture is worse than Western or Japanese culture. I’m just saying it’s challenging for me because I’m a white person in Africa and it’s different from what I’m used to. In fact, in the face of a rapidly disappearing government social safety net in America, I think we might learn something from Africa’s caring and sharing mentality. They can’t rely on the government for anything here so they have to support each other to survive. We might be there sooner than we think in America.

What did you think about this post? If you like this blog, please subscribe to get e-mail updates. To find out more about what I’m doing in Kenya, see The Food Source website!

Ok maybe they're not totally wrong...

Ok maybe they’re not totally wrong…

 

If you want to read more about why the culture is this way, I’ve heard African Friends and Money Matters is a great resource.