Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Congrats to the Winners of the Boston Marathon -- Both the Kenyans and the Japanese!

Perhaps it was a good omen.

Last Friday, one of my undergrads, who had taken my Transportation & Logistics class last Fall, presented me with an unexpected gift -- a beautiful handmade woven cloth that he had brought back from Kenya for me. He gave it to me during the reception that preceded our Meet The Executive event. He told me that it is the kind of cloth that many Kenyan women wear and he remembered the beautiful silk scarf that I had brought to show my class that had been made in Bellagio, Italy, and that the participants in the Humanitarian Logistics: Networks for Africa workshop that I had organized had given me on the last day, in appreciation. My student has done amazing things in Kenya, including being part of the AfricaGoal project, and will return there to work after his graduation from UMass Amherst.

Yesterday, two Kenyans finished first in the men's and women's (Caroline Kilel) divisions in the Boston marathon (frankly, not surprising, but a thrilling race, nonetheless). A Kenyan has won the men's race 5 out of the last 6 years. Geoffrey Mutai won for the men this year and Caroline Kilel for the women (and beat the American Desiree Davila by only a few seconds).

As for the top finishers in the wheelchair division, it was the Japanese who placed first, with Masazumi Soejima winning it for the men and Wakako Tsuchida for the women. Not only was the Japanese sweep unprecedented, but it marked the first time a racer from Japan had won either wheelchair race. Given the difficulties that they had even in training because of the triple disaster in Japan, this is quite wonderful news and a great accomplishment!

The above photo is of a set of pearls that a former student of mine, who is originally from Japan, gave me upon his graduation, from his family. I placed it on the lovely Kenyan cloth, to mark, in a small way, the incredible endurance of this year's Boston marathon winners (and all runners), which also made me think of my wonderful students!