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Global Village visitors serve as angels in the outfield

Global Village "angels in the outfield" run to first base with one of the Miracle League children on the Western Europe team.

On a warm evening earlier this month, the 108 international participants in Lehigh’s Global Village took in a quintessential American pastime. That night, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Allentown’s Coca-Cola Park provided a crash course in baseball to an international group that thought a pitch was related to soccer.

But when the Global Villagers took to the field themselves on July 19, they needed to remember only three rules—everyone hits, everyone scores, and everyone wins.

These are the home-field rules for the Miracle League of the Lehigh Valley, which provides children with special needs and other developmental disabilities an opportunity to play baseball. For the second year, the Global Village for Future Leaders of Business & Industry program teamed up with the Miracle League for a “World Stars” event which offered all the joy of the Olympics without the stress of competition.

The Global Village, which prepares future business leaders to succeed in the international market, was created to unite people and share distinct experiences from all around the world. This year, interns representing 54 countries eagerly shared their cultures and experiences with the nearly 90 Lehigh Valley children who came out for the event.

“I believe that one of the most important lessons that Global Village interns can learn while they are here, is the importance of giving back to their local community,” said Richard Brandt, director of the Iacocca Institute, which runs the program each summer. “Many of the visiting executives that talk to them at their sessions tell the interns that simply being successful and making money is not enough, and you have to share your success with the community and those who are less fortunate.”

Prior to the July 19 event, Melissa Kocsis, executive director of the Miracle League of the Lehigh Valley, shared the kids’ enthusiasm to meet their international teammates.

“It’s more important that these children get to play and be part of a team,” said Kocsis. “Just work one on one with the children and don’t be intimidated if you don’t know baseball,” she advised the interns.

Global Village intern Asaf Tzachor of Israel joins his new friend Morgan on the sidelines during a game.

On game day, this proved valuable advice. After a brief introduction to the field (it’s made of the same rubber surface material used for track events, not grass), a review of the rules (anything goes if it makes a child smile, even tickling) and some minor confusion over proper baseball terminology (it’s a dugout, not a doghouse), the interns put aside any misgivings and played three games with their pint-sized teammates.

“This is a wonderful experience because we can share this day with kids that really need to have fun,” says Elena Vela of Madrid, Spain. “With little effort, I can see them smile.”

Vela was one of the “angels in the outfield” for Team Western Europe. The players divided by regions of the world. Opening ceremonies for each game, replete with a colorful parade of nations, flags and native dress, kicked off the global showdown.

“All the interns were touched deep in their hearts by the young children that they played ball with and got to know in such personal way,” said Brandt. “We, at the Iacocca Institute, are so happy that we can give this service back also to Kostas Kalogeropoulos [a founder of the Miracle League of the Lehigh Valley], who does so much for our program, and we can guarantee that we will be doing this project for many years.”

--Tricia Long

Photos by Kelly Holland

 

Posted on Wednesday, July 22, 2009

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