You often hear the phrase, “what a small world.” Usually you hear it when you meet a friend-of-a-friend or a similar situation. In all actuality, the world is HUGE! There are so many cool places out there and so many interesting people to meet. After just a couple of months in Kuwait, we are quickly realizing that the world is even larger than we ever imagined it. We work with people from every continent in the world (except Antarctica) and they have all been to so many far corners of the world. Well today, for the first time since we’ve been in Kuwait, I had a “wow, what a small world” moment.
I’ve started umpiring for the local Little League Baseball Association here, and we had our first games of the season today (I had a ton of fun, and will definitely share more details about my experiences in a future blog post). Before the game, I introduced myself to my field ump for the game. He was a nice young man, about 15 years old, named Mohammed. We got to chatting, and I started asking him all sorts of questions. During our conversation he mentioned that he has lived in Kuwait his entire life, but his mother is from America. I asked him, “where in America?” and he replied, “a state called Minnesota.” I thought to myself, awesome! Our conversation continued like this:
- Me: “No kidding, thats where i’m from!”
- His eyes got big and the look on his face said “really?”
- Him: “Have you ever heard of a town called Minneapolis?”
- I chuckled
- Me: “Ya, that’s where I live”
- Him: “Reallllly? Have you ever heard of Coon Rapids?”
We shared a laugh and I informed him that I had family from Coon Rapids (shoutout to the Barnes Family!) and that I have spent lots of time in Coon Rapids. I told him I lived in a suburb called Minnetonka, and he about hit the floor. He told me he bought his new baseball bat at the Dick’s Sporting Goods in Minnetonka last summer, and that it was his favorite store in the entire world (literally)! He was in complete disbelief that I frequently shop at the same store, and that I would leave the city that has the coolest sporting goods store (in the world) to move to Kuwait! It sounds like he goes back to Minnesota every other year to visit his family there. He was a great kid, and I look forward to umpiring some more games with him in the future.
My second “what a small world” moment came a few hours later, after I was done umpiring my game. I stopped over at the t-ball field to watch one of my 1st grade students play in his first game. I quickly spotted his parents, and introduced myself. His family was wonderful and we had a great conversation. During our chat, when I informed his father that I was from Minnesota, he replied with “oh cool, I’ve been there.” He went on and told me that he worked for a company called Emerson Process Management (shoutout to the Vacek boys!) located in a city called Chanhassen. I laughed-out-loud and told him that is the same city that I worked in for the last 6 years. We shared some fun stories about the area, like what our favorite restaurants to eat at were in Chanhassen. The highlight of my day though was when my little first grader noticed me after the game was over. He had the biggest smile you have ever seen, and called out, “Mr. Mitch, what are you doing here!?!” He followed it up with a monstrous high-five, and made my day!
It was a great day at the ballpark, and I’m fortunate to have made a few new friends there. Ultimately though, it just proves that when you travel halfway around the world, submersed in a new culture, you will still find people with things in common. Like shopping at the HUGE Dick’s Sporting Goods in Minnetonka, Minnesota or eating at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Chanhassen, Minnesota!