Changed Mountain Lions Benefit From Exposure to Kenyan Culture

By Alex Cramer published February 13, 2013

This is the second of a three-part series detailing the UCCS men's cross country trip to Kenya during the winter break. Check back at later this week for the following installments of this series.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - As mentioned in the previous story of this series, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs Cross Country team took a trip to Kenya this past Christmas break. The trip was the first outside the continental United States for most participating.

After getting back to Colorado Springs and having time to reflect on everything, this trip turned out to be more than a volunteer trip for those involved - it changed who they are.

Coach Misch had been to Kenya before, but never like this. His previous visit took place back in 2007 when Misch went on an exploratory visit with some friends to see the World Cross Country Championships held in Mombasa, Kenya.

But the athletes that got on the plane towards the end of December were not the same athletes who stepped off the plane in the middle of January.

"The entire trip was awesome. Hanging out with the kids was the best part of the whole thing. We stayed in an orphanage the whole time we were there and the 17 kids there were the most joyful kids I've ever met," UCCS runner Robert Scrivner said. "Just seeing how they have so little resources and how they just do such incredible things with such little resources. That's definitely something I'll take away."

Even with school back in full swing you won't find Scrivner on his computer near as much as he was before the trip - so if you send him a message it may be awhile before he gets back to you on Twitter and Facebook.

"I'm trying to minimalize how much I use technology, because it's not really that necessary. I feel like I'm able to relate better to people when I get away from the technology."

Scrivner isn't the only one who has gotten away from the digital world back home. His teammate David Marino got a heavy dose of life before technology over in Kenya as well as he got to interact with Children who don't have the luxury of computers.

"Every time I had to flip open my laptop I would either have to be in Eldoret or I would have to separate myself away from the kids. Because if you open your laptop around the kids they would surround you," Marino said. "They don't know what snow is and all my background pictures have snow in them, so they'd always be asking about it, and I wouldn't get done what I needed to."

Just being back home hasn't gotten Marino back to his usually computer ways either.

"Now when I go back home and get on the computer I get this sense of guilt and wonder what else I could be doing right now."

The diet the Mountain Lions had while in Kenya changed the athletes as well - there stomachs that is. Fresh milk ever day was a perk everyone, including Marino, enjoyed but the repercussions to their Kenyan diet is being felt back in the states.

"I'm finding myself eating a lot more simply. I used to buy a lot of processed foods, and now I can't it anymore, its impossible. My stomach just gets upset," Marino said.

Another glaring difference was in the religious habits. Unlike the multi-religion culture here, the people the Mountain Lions encountered were almost exclusively Christian and practiced what they believed daily.

 Marino kept a journal, and talked about their nightly routine.

"Every night they would sing two to four songs. Then they would sit down, read a passage from the bible and interpret it. After that they would sing once more usually, say their prayers, and then go to bed."

With college and all its breaks between semesters allowing for trips of this nature the perspective these student-athletes gained as people is priceless and will certainly prepare them better for whatever challenges may lie ahead.

While the rest of society may be moving towards handheld tablets and smart phones, the UCCS Cross Country team members that went on the trip are running in the opposite direction as much as they can.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

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