Hartford, Conn. - With Division III Week upon us, the Trinity College Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), partnership with Trinity athletics, has spearheaded numerous campaigns and causes that help illustrate why athletics at the Division III level is so unique. Division III Week is a positive opportunity for all individuals associated with Division III to observe and celebrate the impact of athletics and of student-athletes on the campus and surrounding community. During the week, every Division III school and conference office is encouraged to conduct a type of outreach activity that falls into one of three categories: academic accomplishment; athletic experience; or leadership/community service/campus involvement.
Below is the story of Trinity sophomore men's cross country and track and field standout, Ace McAlister (Great Barrington, Mass.) in his quest to do all he can to help bring clean drinking water, education and hope to his home village in Ethiopia. Stories like McAlister's are one of the many great examples of the kind of humanitarian work that Division III student-athletes involve themselves in.
Ace: When I started school, I was seven and living in a small village called Ajje Didda, Ethiopia. There were no school busses. We needed to walk or run barefoot, 45 to 60 minutes to make it to a school. In my spare time, I sold sugar cane to help pay for school and to help the family financially. When I was four, my parents, as well as my younger brother, passed away due to water bacteria. From then on, my younger sister and I lived with my grandparents until I went to an orphanage when I was 12. I started life speaking the tribal language, Oromo. At the orphanage, I had to learn a new language, Amharic - the national language of Ethiopia. I also learned basic English while I was there. Being in the orphanage exposed me to Americans who would come to volunteer, so I became familiar with their presence. After being in the orphanage for a year, I found out my sister and I were being adopted by a family from the United States. I felt nervous and excited at the same time. I remember that day when two white American strangers, whom I now call my father and mother, picked me up from the orphanage. I still wonder why it was just me and my sister out of those 200 children – truly a blessing!
Every day I think of the millions of people around the world who would trade everything they have to be given the education and privileges I have been granted. The majority of my friends whom I grew up with are now married and have three or more children. Some of them did not complete high school, while others did not have a chance to go to school due to poverty and illness. The summer after my senior year of high school, I had an opportunity to raise funds and travel to my homeland for two months to distribute water filters to my village and to volunteer at two different orphanages in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. While I was there I taught 4th, 5th and 6th grade math and basic English to children at Kidane Mehrat children’s home. During the weekends, I traveled to my home village to distribute water filters and to teach the people there how to use them properly. Since I am in a better place with more opportunities to learn, I would like to give back to those who have helped me. I am very passionate about continuing my outreach to brothers and sisters around the world and about bringing hope to orphans who are in the same situation I was in. I know how it feels to be an orphan living hopelessly among children with behavioral issues and limited educational opportunities. I believe I can help these children by bringing education, sports, and art supplies. My interaction with them, whether in a classroom or outside playing soccer, will help keep their hopes up and possibly make them forget the tough moments they have been through. More importantly, bringing water filters and various school supplies will improve living conditions for hundreds of orphans and residents.
- Ace McAlister