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Ethiopia service trip travel log: Mitchell embracing experience

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Jonathan George, Avery Williamson and Kevin Mitchell are participating in a service trip in Ethiopia this week. (Photo via Jeffrey Burns) Jonathan George, Avery Williamson and Kevin Mitchell are participating in a service trip in Ethiopia this week. (Photo via Jeffrey Burns)
Jonathan George, Kevin Mitchell and Avery Williamson are representing the Kentucky football team on a week-long service trip to Ethiopia. Over the coming days, we will be posting travel logs featuring the thoughts of the student-athletes on the experience. First up is Mitchell, UK's senior offensive lineman who spoke via FaceTime interview.

Kevin Mitchell had as much information as possible about the service trip he would be taking to Ethiopia without actually going on the trip.

He had two different sets of teammates who went on the trip the last two summers, so he had gotten plenty of advice on how to approach it. He even lived with former offensive line teammate Stuart Hines when Hines went to Ethiopia in the summer of 2011.

No matter who he talked to, there was one common message.

"All the guys I've talked to just said, 'Embrace it,' " Mitchell said.

Two days into his time in the Eastern African nation, that's what Mitchell is doing.

The voyage for Mitchell and his two teammates began with a quick stop in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, Mitchell, Jonathan George and Avery Williamson toured their nation's capital, ate dinner and tried to get some rest before a long day of travel on Wednesday. They then boarded a plane bound for Ethiopia for a 13-hour flight.

"I've never even ridden in a car that long before," Mitchell said.

Due to the seven-hour time difference, the travel party arrived at 7:30 a.m. East Africa Time and wasted no time getting the life-changing experience started in Bole Bulbula, Ethiopia. There, the three UK football players distributed filters to residents without clean water and helped line the inside of homes with plastic for rain protection.

After eating dinner and getting settled into the place he would be staying for the night, Mitchell had no trouble getting to sleep.

"We were really tired because we got off the plane and had a full day," Mitchell said.

Following a night of rest, the three arose early the next morning to head to Korah. The community - located in Ethiopia's capital city of Addis Ababa - is one of the poorest areas in the world. Mitchell and his teammates provided food and charcoal to approximately 25 families, touring homes along the way to get a feel for life in Korah.

Considering Mitchell stands at 6-foot-6 and the smallest of the three is George at 5-10, 221 pounds, it should come as no surprise that they attracted attention. But in spite of the language barrier and a little initial awkwardness, Mitchell could not have felt more welcome.

"The people here are super-friendly," Mitchell said. "At first I didn't really know because they kind of look at you weird, but they're super-friendly, very accepting people. Everywhere we've been, they've taken us in and accepted everything we've been able to provide them. They're real grateful."

After another packed day on Friday, the group returned to its hotel for dinner at 6:30 p.m. and to rest up for Saturday and reflect on their first two days. As much as Mitchell may have heard about what he was in for before he came to Ethiopia, he knows now there is no way anyone could know what to expect.

"I kind of knew what I was getting into, but it's a different world when you actually get here," Mitchell said. "Nobody can really describe how it really is. Once you see it with your own eyes, it's really unbelievable."
Ethiopia2_jb.jpg Ethiopia3_jb.jpg Ethiopia4_jb.jpg Ethiopia5_jb.jpg Ethiopia6_jb.jpg All photos by Jeffrey Burns.

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2 Comments

Hey good work guys. Come north a little ways and you will find several hundred of the Army Kentucky National Guard in Djibouti. We are from Lexington.

So happy for the these three young men to have this life changing experience. As a UK fan, season ticket holder, adopted dad of twin girls from Ethiopia, I am proud of them taking time from the season preparation to get this experience.

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  • Jeffrey Wills: So happy for the these three young men to have this life changing experience. As a UK fan, season ticket read more
  • Mike Polston: Hey good work guys. Come north a little ways and you will find several hundred of the Army Kentucky National read more