On the occasion of your graduation
The American college campus is unique. No other setting so perfectly allows for young men and women, fresh out of their parents’ grasp, to believe they are wholly free and independent adults. Cradled between stoic buildings and student residences, undergrads live on their own while behind-the-scenes a host of caregivers, counselors, professors, and university staff dole out tuition, academic guidance, routine, and lunch for them.
To punctuate this four-year experience, most graduates exit their world to travel the real world. Most will pair up in trios or quartets to backpack Europe, and –similar to their recently concluded college experience — will feel initiated by a foreign experience that is, in fact, totally familiar. They will hole in up hostels that congregate hordes of other Americans for a bar crawl that hits all of the hottest Irish bars in Paris. They will head to Amsterdam, gorge on ‘shrooms, freak out at the Van Gogh museum and then pay the obligatory visit to the Anne Frank house in penitence for their previous sins. They will binge drink through Germany, England, and Ireland and somehow return with enough pictures of old buildings they don’t know the names of to convince their parents they bankrolled an edifying and eye-opening rite of passage.
Despite what might read as a critical tone, there is in fact nothing wrong with the aforementioned itinerary. It will ensure a memorable, fun trip. If, however, you are looking to do something other than what might have occurred any random Saturday night on your college campus, then I suggest the Homeless World Cup. My endorsement for this event is two-fold. First, this year’s tournament is held in Paris, France, and watching teams of international homeless players compete in intense street soccer matches is probably the most unique thing one can hope to do on the Champs de Mars. Second, if you graduated with a GPA of 3.0 or lower, if you graduated from a liberal arts college, or if your graduated with a diploma that reads Bachelor of Arts then you’re as good as homeless already. Better bone up on your bicycle kicks.
The Homeless World Cup is broken into three stages where teams of eight compete in matches officiated by a referee, which last for 14 minutes with a one-minute break for half-time. To gain entry to a team you must be at least 16-years-old and have either 1). been homeless at some point after January 2010, in accordance with the national definition of homelessness, 2). make your living as a street paper vendor, 3). be an asylum seeker currently without positive asylum status, or 4). be currently enrolled in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation and also have been homeless at some point in the past two years. (So, again, basically any recent college grad.)
According to their numbers, The Homeless World Cup is pioneering a level of impact never seen before. Over 70 percent of players significantly change their lives. Even more impressive 93 percent of players who competed in the Copenhagen 2007 Cup now have a new motivation for life. These are numbers your undergrad’s Office of Admissions just can’t compete with. And just in case you get homesick for the comfort of college, all players receive a medal. Congratulations to you, graduate.