OTTAWA- For five lucky 10 and 11 year-olds and one chaperone all from Nova Scotia, the annual World Children’s Baseball Fair was an event that all of them will not soon forget.
For the past twenty-one years, the World Children’s Baseball Fair has brought children from around the world together to celebrate and participate in a cultural exchange through the great game of baseball. The 2011 event was held in Kiohsiung and Taipei City, Taiwan in the latter part of July.
In 1990, the first World Children’s Baseball Fair was held in Los Angeles and has travelled around the world every year since then. Baseball homerun kings, Hank Aaron from the United States a Sadaharu Oh from Japan came up with the concept as way of bringing children together through baseball. At this year’s event, Oh was at the stadium each day witnessing the vision that he and Aaron thought out 20 years ago.
Canada is one of several countries that participate in this prestigious event and each year a different province nominates five children and one chaperone to go. This year it was Nova Scotia’s turn and they were faced with a tough choice, how do we choose which kids to send?
“Baseball Nova Scotia decided to have kids submit essays as to why they thought they should go,” explained Canadian Chaperone and Baseball Canada’s Girls Committee Chair, Holly LaPierre.
One lucky child, Miguel from Yarmouth, was fortunate enough to be chosen and had an experience of a lifetime meeting and playing baseball with kids from all over the world.
“My favourite part of the WCBF was everything about baseball,” said Miguel who plays Mosquito baseball in the Yarmouth Area Minor Baseball Association. “I liked playing games with players from other countries, learning new skills from the coaches, getting new equipment and playing in a major league stadium. It was awesome!”
During the morning, Miguel along with Ben, Lauren, Savannah and Marc from Nova Scotia were joined by over 170 other 10 and 11 year-olds from around the world on the baseball field to participate in drills. The sessions covered all things baseball, including hitting, running, fielding and throwing. In the afternoon, everyone was involved in cultural activities where player’s and chaperones had the opportunity to learn about other countries and cultures while also taking the time to share stories and teach others about Canadian culture.
“The main reasons why I wanted to attend was to learn more baseball skills, make new friends and learn about Taiwanese culture,” continued Miguel. “I got to do all of it!”
“I wanted to attend the WCBF because I thought it would be a lot of fun,” exclaimed Marc who plays in the Bridgewater Minor Baseball Association. “I love baseball and playing with other players from around the world was an experience of a lifetime.”
On one particular evening, the Canadian contingent participated in a talent show where each country had to put on a performance for their international friends. In true Canadian fashion the youngsters from Nova Scotia (and their chaperone) invited other children onto the stage to learn and perform ‘Waving Flag’ by Canadian artist K'naan.
Another great moment experienced by the Canadians occurred when Savannah, who turned 12 years-old on the trip, was greeted with ‘happy birthday’ sung to her in five different languages.
“She was sang to in English, French, Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese,” said LaPierre. “It was pretty cool and unique as not many people get sang to in five different languages on their birthday.”
As much as the event provided the children with the opportunity to form lifelong relationships with other kids around the world, it also gave the chaperones and volunteers a chance to see another part of the world and make some new friends of their own. In fact, Holly LaPierre took full advantage of this opportunity and also made a positive impression on her new found friends as she was selected as one of the top three chaperones/coaches by members of the coaching staff from the International Baseball Federation.
“I was selected along with a coach from Nicaragua and Hong Kong who I can proudly say are my new friends,” noted LaPierre. “It definitely was an honour.”
The experience that LaPierre and the five youngsters from Nova Scotia had in Taiwan is something they will remember and cherish for the rest of their lives.
“The week that the children and I spent in Taiwan was an amazing experience,” said LaPierre when reflecting on the trip. “A trip of a lifetime many would say. The culture interaction with all of the other countries was a learning experience for everyone.”