Andrew Opila ’09 and Dan Garrity ’78 head for Turkey this summer

Andrew and Dan are off to Turkey this summer. Garrity is the Director of Gonzaga’s Broadcast & Electronic Media department, Opila his student. They will be producing, shooting and editing a series of travel shows documenting their experience starting in Istanbul and throughout western and central Turkey. Their goal is to showcase Turkey’s rich culture and history.

Opila said in an email, “Following our continued Jesuit education we want to educate our viewers purposefully and bring our world closure together around stories that have value. We just do it with video. There will be at least 5 shows and we will post them to our GUTV (Gonzaga University TV) YouTube channel and plan to blow up Facebook with it too.”

Before they begin their travel journal, Opila will spend three weeks backpacking through Turkey on the Lycian Way and Kackar Mountains with his older brother Chris ’07.

YouTube Channel

Jose-Pablo Buerba ’06 follows his dream

I am one of two Americans, and the first Mexican to play in the Chinese Football League

After Brophy, I went on to Georgetown University and ended up not playing soccer because of the team having a full roster. I instead played American Football, and had a pretty successful career considering I had never played before in my life. I eventually did make it on to the soccer team, but had a less than impressive career. But, I kept my hopes up.

After graduation, I moved down to Mexico City for fun to tryout for a professional soccer club called Cruz Azul. My trial went surprisingly very well, placing me in the Reserve squad, but due to some visa difficulties I ended up coming back to the States to finally get my US citizenship and continue my education. Being a semester in, I decided to withdraw from the possibility of an Ivy League education in order to pursue soccer while I am still young.

Back in Arizona, I played for the semi-pro team AZ Sahuaros a couple of games as well as on another team with Steve Nash during the NBA lockout. In the meantime as well, I began helping the soccer program at Brophy, not only for my own training, but to have a younger voice on the team for the players to relate to. Unfortunately, we barely lost the State Championship, and a few days later I was on a plane to China.

The opportunity in China came about from my girlfriend, a Georgetown academic superstar, who had a job offer in Beijing through an organization called China Medical Board, created by the Rockefeller Foundation and Harvard University. She moved while I was trying to figure out my next move in terms of soccer but now my focus had to be China. It was pretty disheartening since every person who knew something about Chinese soccer was trying to dissuade me from going due to League corruption scandals and regime changes that the game had undergone in the past decade. As well as, the Chinese teams only want big-shot, big-name players on their teams. Having reached out to probably hundreds of people and teams, I eventually found a team that was willing to give me a trial. I was very excited about this opportunity. So I literally packed up my things and went.

I thought that I would be the only one at the trial, but to my surprise there were 17 other foreigners trying out for 1 spot the day before they signed contacts. The trial went OK, the coach said he would call. But he never called. And I was not chosen. Bothered by the fact that he hadn’t called, I went to seek him out and after showing up about five or six times and asking him to give me another chance, he finally did. I was given 3 months trial to train with the team and see how I adjust to the playing style. Long story short, I played two Sundays ago–unfortunately I cannot tell you who we played against because it was in Chinese, but I know it was a team from the North. Plus, I was in shock. The coach had called me the day before to show up the next day–I was not too worried or thrilled since a lot of the younger players just sit on the bench at the games, or warm up for the whole game and not go in. To my surprise however, I not only was playing, but I was starting. And usually I play center defense, but he put me as outside midfield… As it went, we tied 0-0. And I had a very (understandably) timid, but pretty good game.

I am one of two Americans, and the first Mexican to play in the Chinese Football League. However, I can’t sit and relish on the game. I have to work even harder if I want to play consistently. And, not only that, I am planning my next move out of China, into a more soccer-based country. But I’m taking it one day at a time, just trying to improve every day. Because if there’s anything that I have learned the past few months is that it is very humbling to play with quality players who have international and national experience. It makes you question everything you’ve done in the past, and leaves you with no choice but to practice and train harder to get up to their level.

Jose-Pablo Buerba graduated from Brophy in 2006. His brother Rafael is also an alumnus of 2004

Sean Tierney ’05 writes about the democratic climate in Cairo

Sean Tierney ’05 spent his Christmas Break with Fr. William Fulco, S.J., PhD, head of the Archeology department at Loyola Marymount University, exploring the political, moral, and theological aspects of the Revolution in Egypt.  He reflects on his time in Cairo.

The energy in Cairo is palpable.  The traffic is constant and chaotic: Outside my window is an ever-present cacophony of car horns, near crashes, and pedestrian dodging.  There is a wide menu of smells available at any moment, ranging from putrid to flowery.  Cats are everywhere and believe that they run the place.  The people here appear to be quite happy — smiles are abundant and cordiality has been extended at every turn.   Our hosts — the Jesuit primary/high school in Cairo — have been gracious and warm.  Meals are cooked for us and I inhabit a room that looks out onto central Cairo and is yards away from a gorgeous balcony overlooking the same. Our goal was to stand in solidarity with Egypt’s beautiful people; this has proven to be a perfect venue. 

After two days in downtown Cairo — spent mostly speaking with people from Tahrir Square — we left for Giza, home of the Egyptian pyramids.  World History textbooks left me rather unprepared.  Sublime in both their design and temporal permanence, I was blown away from the minute we arrived.  Camels pace and vendors hassle, but there is one boss in this place; the pyramids dominate the scene.  I could do my best to describe what they look like and how they make you feel, but I’m not that talented. They’re really cool. It’s something you’ve just got to see. 

What I can tell you about was the conversation I had that day.  The Pyramids provided a beautiful entrée into a discussion of the significance of Revolution.  Gaze up at the tip of the pyramid and you think about how long these things have been around. Turn 180 degrees and you see a movement which threatens the way of life that these structures memorialize.  Our tour guide, whose trust we earned after making sure we didn’t interrupt his smoke breaks, was both willing and able to talk about his experience in the Revolution.  As a Mubarak supporter, his perspective was unique to our experience in Tahrir Square where we spoke with (and sympathized with) pro-Revolutionaries. Our tour guide’s take was quite different.

He explained that the Revolution has been an unwelcome disruption.  Stability that existed for centuries is no longer there. It has had a devastating effect on tourism here and the chain-reaction has affected many people’s everyday life (and may explain why the Muslim Brotherhood has had election success — people think they are the only ones capable of fixing the economy). Simply, the Revolution here has taken food out of people’s mouths and disrupted a lifestyle the Egyptians have enjoyed since the Pharaonic times.

On the other hand, it’s also easy to be swept up by the revolutionary spirit here.  Tahrir has a magnetic pull.  In fact, yesterday, I sat with a young activist for an hour or so.   She’s an activist for women’s rights (certainly, a challenge here) and a revolutionary at heart.   Her goals are noble, her means just, and her vision clear.  She spoke brilliantly of Egypt’s history, its current concerns and the possibilities of its future. Optimism abounds and she’s a very proud Egyptian. Egypt, she explained, was both ready and able to transition into a democracy.  I sat there wanting her to succeed. 

Certainly, there is a tension between these two conversations, a tension that has been confirmed by my nightly walks through downtown Cairo. Just after the evening prayers finish, the alleyways fill with smiling, happy people. The men bring out plastic chairs, smoke sheesha and chat; women attempt to corral both their husbands and their offspring; and, the children’s eyes dilate trying to take it all in.  Vendors’ calloused hands pull corn-on-the-cob off fires that they fan with pigeon feathers. Women in the niqab (the full veil) slide ice cream cones under their headscarves to get a taste of the sweet life.  Children clutch to their fathers as they dodge cars and appear to be playing a game of real-life "frogger" in the streets.  Neighbors meet and swap stories.  Each night is a communal activity.  Talk to them and you quickly realize that this experience is their national treasure.  And, many of them wonder (out loud) if the Revolution might threaten this stability.  

Post Revolution, the calculation that many are making is whether the right to vote is worth more than a threat to their beautiful lifestyle.  The young and educated — like the woman activist I met with — know that the two are not mutually exclusive; the Egyptian people can have (and deserve) both.  But, the dividends of self-governance have been slow to pay.  The Revolution has caused much pain for the average Egyptian and the dreams of the Revolution are not fully realized.   Thus, to make this Revolution work, the people will need to make a leap of faith, one that has been only an abstract idea since the time of the Pyramids.  Let us hope that American foreign policy can support a peaceful transition to democracy, not inhibit it.

Sean Tierney ’05 is in his third year at the University of Michigan Law School.
-Father William Fulco, SJ, PhDLMU curriculum vitae