In their home country, Mansour Alawi and Obai Arafat would probably have never danced with a large group that included females.
That’s the custom in Saudi Arabia; the genders are typically separate from each other. Outside of an intimate relationship, there wouldn’t be much interaction between a man and a woman.
That wasn’t the case for the two male Saudi Arabian archers during Sunday’s opening ceremony for the World Archery Youth Championships (WAYC) in Yankton.
Two of the three male Cadet Recurve shooters from their country, Alawai and Arafat joined in the large crowd of archers who went out to dance during a Native American performance.
“It’s very important,” said their coach, Clint Savo, a native of the Philippines. “It gives them more of an open mind, because it’s so different from back home.”
Both Alawi and Arafat said their favorite part of the hour-long opening ceremony was the dancing, during the Osni Ponca Heduska (Warrior) Society performance.
Although both archers weren’t thinking of their cultural instincts when they joined in the fun, it’s all part of the experience of visiting a new country, their coach said.
“It’s totally different,” Savo said. “Back home, it’s close-knit and more strict. They can’t even interact with the opposite sex.
“Their only enjoyment would be archery and driving their cars.”
The opportunity to interact during the opening ceremony was also a change for the three Saudis, they said.
“This one is different because we can get involved,” Arafat said. “The dancing was my favorite.”
Added Alawai, “That was very beautiful. We all enjoyed it.”
Another change for them was the opportunity Sunday to watch the buffalo performance, which a number of international archers said was their favorite aspect.
Seeing a buffalo in person isn’t exactly something Alawi or Arafat normally get.
“We do have camels,” Alawi said, smiling.
They also don’t have much in the way of trees back home, which is a far cry from what the two archers have already seen during their stay.
“It’s really nice, with all the trees,” Arafat said. “Back home, we don’t see this much greenery. It’s all desert.”
Canadian Staying Busy In 2015
Shannon Davidson has a lot on her plate this summer.
The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, won two gold medals at the Canada Winter Games earlier this year, and then turned her attention to a more prestigious tournament.
Davidson tried out for the Canadian team for the 2015 Pan American Games (July 10-26 in Toronto), but is awaiting word on whether or not she made the team.
“I was told tentatively that I made it, but we’re just waiting on the final word,” Davison said after Sunday’s opening ceremony for the WAYC.
While that potential opportunity looms in the near future, Davidson said she is now focused on the WAYC.
“I’ve been feeling good lately,” she said. “I’ve just been working on consistency.”
As Davidson sat with her fellow Canadian archers during Sunday’s opening ceremony, she couldn’t help but be awed by the 52 flags that were brought in during the Parade of Nations.
“It was pretty cool to see all those flags,” she said. “The buffalo were cool too, but we can always see them in a zoo.”
New Travel For German
Prior to packing his bags and hopping on a plane for South Dakota, Max Wechmuller had never traveled outside of Europe.
Sure, the 20-year-old archer from Germany had been to tournaments in Moscow, Poland and Romania, but he had never been to the United States.
Although he is experiencing a whole new place, Sunday’s WAYC opening ceremony may have been the perfect thing to fuel his excitement for this week’s tournament.
“I was really excited before, but more now,” Wechmuller said.
The interactive opening ceremony, which featured a Native American dance performance, a short musical concert and a buffalo performance, was more than what Wechmuller expected, he said.
“Sometimes opening ceremonies can be a little bit boring, but this show was cool,” he said.
His favorite part? The two performing buffalo – another new experience for he and his fellow German visitors.
“I’ve never seen one; not in real life,” Wechmuller said. “Only in pictures or on TV.
Wechmuller said he wanted to make sure to enjoy every moment of the WAYC because it’s last opportunity. He will enter the Senior division next year, taking him out of the WAYC age ranges.
“It’s very special for me,” he said. “I get to see the team for the last time.”
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