Youth Development Through Sports
EIN: 30-0712494

Sarah Axelson

Sarah Axelson
Volunteer

The PAI 2013 Europe Trip was a life changing experience. Serbia was the first European country I’ve been to and I could not have asked for a prettier country, more hospitable people, or sweeter children to visit. Novi Sad is a beautiful city that was easy to navigate. The people are beautiful inside and out as well. I truly felt taken care of in this city whether our group already knew our contacts or we were meeting them for the first time. The children’s village was something that I started missing the last day we were there working with the kids. While they have all the basic needs in life (enough food, clean clothes, and a roof over their heads) you could see they were in need of positive relationships. I made strong bonds with several children that I will keep in contact with until I return next year. One of the most inspiring observations over the week we spent with the Serbian children is how they not only connected with us quickly but how their relationships with each other evolved from competing with each other to helping and looking out for or nurturing each other. There were a couple of kids who wanted to keep the balls or toys for themselves the first day we arrived but by the end of the week they were gladly sharing toys in games and playing together amongst themselves instead of competing against each other. When we left Novi Sad I truly felt I was leaving family behind. There is a feeling you get from Serbia and its people that they sincerely care about you just like when you leave home. With that feeling the ‘goodbye’ felt more like a ‘see you soon. It was the end of a visit but not the end of a relationship—I will definitely be joining PAI in returning to Serbia. When we arrived in Thessaloniki Greece I didn’t realize just how outcast the gypsy community is. They are true survivors that do what they can to keep their families alive. One of the reasons for the strong negative image is the culture of stealing and dishonesty that is the way a lot of families stay alive. The particular community we visited was one that was trying to change the negative stigma by making Christianity a strong part of their lives. The children were some of the most beautiful babies I’d ever seen. They all had this wonderful light in their eyes that was filled with excitement and curiosity. They were also extremely affectionate with each other and us. Not a minute would go by without receiving a hug, or have our hair braided by the little girls. They were very generous too. I brought home several bracelets that different children gave me. It was sweet seeing the excitement in the children when we gave them our gifts; they wanted to share what we had given them with us as well. The children I connected with didn’t seem to leave my side the entire time I was with them. There was a strong sense of family among the children that I really admired. The children and their families may not have had much but they certainly took care of each other as much as they could. I strongly admired that in all the families. Progression Athletics International is a wonderful organization that I am so fortunate to be apart of. Not only does Shane take care of each individual that embarks on the journey with him, but he also makes you feel like family from day one. I am very blessed to be apart of the PAI family and I cannot wait to return to Serbia and visit the new friends we will make in new and different countries.

Volunteer

The PAI 2013 Europe Trip was a life changing experience. Serbia was the first European country I’ve been to and I could not have asked for a prettier country, more hospitable people, or sweeter children to visit. Novi Sad is a beautiful city that was easy to navigate. The people are beautiful inside and out as well. I truly felt taken care of in this city whether our group already knew our contacts or we were meeting them for the first time. The children’s village was something that I started missing the last day we were there working with the kids. While they have all the basic needs in life (enough food, clean clothes, and a roof over their heads) you could see they were in need of positive relationships. I made strong bonds with several children that I will keep in contact with until I return next year. One of the most inspiring observations over the week we spent with the Serbian children is how they not only connected with us quickly but how their relationships with each other evolved from competing with each other to helping and looking out for or nurturing each other. There were a couple of kids who wanted to keep the balls or toys for themselves the first day we arrived but by the end of the week they were gladly sharing toys in games and playing together amongst themselves instead of competing against each other. When we left Novi Sad I truly felt I was leaving family behind. There is a feeling you get from Serbia and its people that they sincerely care about you just like when you leave home. With that feeling the ‘goodbye’ felt more like a ‘see you soon. It was the end of a visit but not the end of a relationship—I will definitely be joining PAI in returning to Serbia. When we arrived in Thessaloniki Greece I didn’t realize just how outcast the gypsy community is. They are true survivors that do what they can to keep their families alive. One of the reasons for the strong negative image is the culture of stealing and dishonesty that is the way a lot of families stay alive. The particular community we visited was one that was trying to change the negative stigma by making Christianity a strong part of their lives. The children were some of the most beautiful babies I’d ever seen. They all had this wonderful light in their eyes that was filled with excitement and curiosity. They were also extremely affectionate with each other and us. Not a minute would go by without receiving a hug, or have our hair braided by the little girls. They were very generous too. I brought home several bracelets that different children gave me. It was sweet seeing the excitement in the children when we gave them our gifts; they wanted to share what we had given them with us as well. The children I connected with didn’t seem to leave my side the entire time I was with them. There was a strong sense of family among the children that I really admired. The children and their families may not have had much but they certainly took care of each other as much as they could. I strongly admired that in all the families. Progression Athletics International is a wonderful organization that I am so fortunate to be apart of. Not only does Shane take care of each individual that embarks on the journey with him, but he also makes you feel like family from day one. I am very blessed to be apart of the PAI family and I cannot wait to return to Serbia and visit the new friends we will make in new and different countries.

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