March 5, 2013
While most college students head to the beach for fun and sun, or maybe home for rest and relaxation over spring break, three Wolfpack student-athletes decided to use their time off to minister to those in need.
Football’s Asa Watson, men’s soccer player Lee Grander and former women’s soccer player Lauren “Woody” Woodson flew to Los Angeles on Friday to spend the week working for Athletes in Action’s “Urban Project L.A.” They will be working side-by-side with students from colleges all over the United States. On Sunday, they were joined by Julianna Prim from the Pack women’s swimming team.
For Watson, a senior tight end, it marks his second trip to work on the project, as he helped work with kids on L.A.’s notorious Skid Row in the summer of 2011. This week, he is sharing his experiences and those of his fellow State student-athletes with GoPack.com.
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - Yesterday was a long, busy day. I thought we were going to go to our mission sites, but we are actually starting that today [Monday]. We started off the day watching the movie “Free indeed.”
It was a movie that addressed white privilege and how that can be a barrier from reaching people, even if you have the greatest intentions of serving and being a help. Privilege can create blind spots that keep us from seeing the real picture. In order to see the real problem, we have to take off the privilege glasses and see what people actually need.
It was interesting to ask myself the question because even though I’m not white, I’m still coming from privilege. When you grow up privileged, you think that working hard and going to school and doing what you’re supposed to do will get you where you want to be in life. But in some parts of the country, even if they worked as hard as they could, they don’t have what we have and never will. They don’t have the resources or the influences from their neighborhood. The playing level isn’t equal.
We went to church and Pastor Joe [Brown] spoke on Sampson, which is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Sampson had this great ability God gave him and a great gift to help the Jewish people. But he abused his gift. His inability to obey God caused him to not reach his full potential. He talked about how, in the end, Sampson was a useless failure in the eyes of others - they cut out his eyes, tied him up, cut his hair off and he seemed to be forgotten by God. As an athlete, we find our importance in what we can do and our pride is in our strength and physical ability like Sampson. No one wants a washed up athlete - everybody wants to be around you when you have the ability and are in the spotlight. But regardless of how far we’ve fallen from God, he never forsakes us. God still used Sampson with his last breath. Society saw him as a failure but God used him.
We had lunch with church members and then headed out for a city-wide scavenger hunt. We got points for the different sites we went to. We drove around for about two hours and went to Little Tokyo, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, the Santa Monica Pier, Staples Center, Bubba Gump’s, the House that was on the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air,’ Rodeo Drive.
It was fun, but I was thinking about the skill we learned Saturday – how to look at our surroundings and be able to identify how the people are around that area. It was an interesting paradox to go to wealthy areas, but still see so much poverty. At the Santa Monica Pier, there were a lot of nice cars and people with money, but a lot of homeless people too. In our society, we view wealth as the ultimate good and the most important thing. When you’re wealthy, you’ve reached the pinnacle. But even with millions of dollars you can be spiritually bankrupt.
We were joined by Juliana Prim from swimming today, so there are four of us here now. It’s time to get to work.