Summerside man bonds with kids through chess
SUMMERSIDE – At their best, games connect us on a very basic level, they force us to examine ourselves, and each other, in new light, and can give us renewed appreciation for what it makes us human.
Summerside resident Alex Davies teaching kids at the Golden Hearts Junior School, in Uganda, how to play chess. Submitted photo
Alex Davies recently had such an experience.
The Summerside resident was volunteering his time as a teacher this past summer in an area near Kampala, capital of the East African nation of Uganda, when he decided to introduce the kids to one of his favourite pastimes – chess.
“Chess is a great game,” said Davies, who founded Summerside chess club a few years ago.
“It teaches kids math, concentration, problem solving, analytical skills – the possibilities are limitless,” he added.
Davies, a frequent traveler, was in Uganda from June 7 to Aug. 30, volunteering as a teacher with an organization now known as Golden Hearts Junior School; the school is also an orphanage.
Every Tuesday after play time Davies would have a chess club for the kids. He had brought four boards and pieces to the school amongst the various other donations he brought with him.
He started out with about 40 interested students and after about a month he was down to 10. That core group developed a taste for the game and started playing almost every day.
“They took to the game right away. I only had to show them once,” said Davies.
The head boy of the school was an excellent player, he added, so Davies entrusted him with the gear and the club.
He’d like to think that they are still playing, he said, though he can’t be sure.
Regardless, those days spent playing chess with those kids rank amongst the best in Davies’ life.
“I’ve been around the world. I’ve lived in many places, I’ve worked in many places, and I’ve taught many kids. But Africa, Uganda … was the greatest adventure of my life,” he said.
“It’s the people, it’s the people that make something … and the African people are the nicest people. And again, I’ve been around, I know what the various people are like everywhere you go. But these people are just so loving and caring and they want to do everything for you – and they have nothing,” he said.