All Orange and All In
My game day gear. Despite I will not be in California, I will be All Orange and All In here in Nairobi Kenya.
Well the holidays are over and I still am not sure of when/or if I will make it back to South Sudan. I was praying for a peaceful end to the conflict so I would be able to return after the start of the New Year but no peace agreement has been agreed to and a ceasefire seems an unlikely reality. The bright spot in the midst of this unfortunate tragedy is tonight’s Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship Game. As an Auburn fan I am still in a state of shock that Auburn finished the season ranked number 2 and now playing for another National Championship.
For me, this has been a special season of Auburn football. Yes, I am sure most Auburn fans would say that – especially after the 3-9 season we endured in 2012. However, Saturdays (and Sunday mornings) took on new meanings for me in South Sudan. It was my connection back to the United States. In August of 2013, I jumped at the opportunity to move to South Sudan to work with the International Republican Institute. But what I would later come to realize was magnitude of my decision. While I didn’t find living in Juba, South Sudan extremely difficult, I did miss the life that I left in Washington, D.C. I missed my family and friends that had made D.C. so special.
So how did the Auburn football team help me settle into South Sudan? For one, Saturday game days were the only consistent aspect of my life in South Sudan. Saturdays meant finding a way to experience the Auburn football game. It was difficult to watch the football game so I subscribed to the Auburn network so I could listen to the Auburn announcers call the game. Saturday also meant a phone call back to the states to discuss the game that I had just heard either with my parents or with friends. Each Saturday, I was able to step away from the stress and heat of South Sudan and participate in a weekly tradition – even though that tradition was happening thousands of miles away and eight hours behind South Sudan. What brought joy to my heart was each Monday my coworkers (even a South Sudanese coworker who spent time in the US) would ask me “did Auburn win this weekend?” I think they could always tell because of the smile on my face and the fact that I wore orange and blue on Mondays!
And who can forget the win against Alabama on November 30th, Chris Davis’ return of a failed Alabama field goal for a touchdown. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I didn’t watch the game but what brought joy to my heart was all the Facebook posts, text messages, tweets and phone calls that I received from friends all over the world congratulating me on Auburn’s big win (as if I scored the winning touchdown) and telling me that they were Auburn fans because of me.
I am hoping to return to South Sudan very soon but Saturdays won’t be the same since football season is ending. But regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game (a win would be better than a loss), I will forever hold this football season in special regards. 2010’s national championship season was awesome as I was able to travel to Phoenix, Arizona to celebrate the victory, but 2013 season helped me in my adjustment to South Sudan and brought a moment of distraction in the midst of a terrible conflict.
War Eagle! Go Auburn!