Division III Week: Pacific Athletes Make The Most Of Overseas Experiences

Pacific Women's Soccer Players Sarah Tuffey (left) and Kamryn Plechot and Men's Soccer Player Cameron Davis Traveled To Kenya In January.

Pacific student-athletes take advantage of Winter II Term overseas opportunities, including an eye-opening trip to learn about globalization in Kenya.

The group of seven kids from the day school can't tell where Pacific University is, but they will not soon forget that such a place exists and that they are among the biggest fans of the Boxers' soccer program.  

The seven picked the right day to make sure they attended their school for street children on Nakuru, Kenya, a day when most schools were closed for national elections last January.  This particular school was open, with the seven who decided to show outside playing soccer.
It was also the day that a group of students from Pacific, including three varsity soccer players, visited the school and presented the children with Pacific University soccer shirts.  The apparel provided the three instant stardom and the Boxers some immediate fans from Africa.
“The director there told me that they probably wouldn't take those shirts off until there were holes in them because they loved soccer so much,” said Sarah Tuffey (Sr., Valencia, Calif.), who went to Kenya as part of a service learning class offered during the university's Winter II term.  She was joined on the trip by women's soccer teammate Kamryn Plechot (So., La Palma, Calif.), men's soccer player Cameron Davis (Sr., Eugene, Ore.) and football player Kyle Merriam (Jr., West Linn, Ore.).
“We explained to the kids that we played soccer from our school in the U.S., and that this was our school's shirt,” Tuffey said.  “They thought it was neat to get a shirt from somewhere that said soccer to it.”

Sarah Tuffey Feature Photo 2
Pacific women's soccer player Sarah Tuffey (kneeling at left) hands out Pacific soccer shirts at a day school for street children in Nakuru, Kenya.
The soccer experience for the four student-athletes was only one minor corollary to a two-week experience in Kenya that Tuffey said changed her life.  The trip was part of a class entitled “Seminar on Globalization: Africa's Experience In Kenya,” offered by Professor Richard Paxton through Pacific's College of Education.

The course, according to the syllabus, was designed to examine the sociocultural, economic, historical and geopolitical implications in an African country.  Heavy emphasis was put upon the concepts, issues and trends in globalization, including an analysis of the impact of globalization on the people and social institutions of an African country.
Students in the class attended a once weekly seminar during the fall semester to learn about the concept of globalization and to prepare for the trip.  The 12 students, who were joined by a group of students from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, were in Kenya from Jan. 8-22.
Tuffey, who also serves as president of Pacific's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, said that the class was eye opening for her, having only experienced Africa prior to the trip through the media.  “They wanted us to get rid of this picture in our mind of Kenya and how dangerous everybody thinks it is,” she said.  “They wanted us to see how their country was developing and get a feel for what it is really like there, not just what it is like on CNN.”
The course combined lectures at Nakuru's Egerton University on globalization, education and health care, practical experiences visiting schools and health clinics in Nakuru and sightseeing.  Students had the chance to visit Lake Nakuru National Park, a tea plantation and the Maasai Mara Game Preserve.
While the trips to the park and game preserve were truly once in a lifetime experiences, the images that stick with Tuffey were those from the schools and healthcare facilities.  An exercise science major that intends to attend nursing school following graduation in May, she was struck by her experiences visiting a health clinic operated by Catholic Diocese of Nakuru.  Seeing how the Kenyans made do with much less, compared to the abundance of healthcare in the United States, made an impact.
“The health clinic we went to was very small.  They probably saw about 50 patients a day, most of which were being treated for HIV,” Tuffey said.  “A lot of times they had to refer patients out to the bigger institutions because they don't have the supplies there that they to treat everyone.  There was only one doctor.  The rest of the people were nurses or lab technicians.”
The participation in service learning classes, such as the Kenya trip, is a cornerstone of the Pacific University educational experience.  While participation in athletics often makes taking a semester or year abroad, the offering of travel courses during the Winter II term, a two-week intensive study term during January, give student-athletes the opportunity to have an overseas experience without disrupting their seasons.
The Winter II travel classes are a popular option for many Pacific students.  In addition to the Kenya trip, a popular trip takes students to Lukachukai, Ariz., for a 20-day experience with the Navajo Nation.
Tuffey said the chance to take the Kenya Winter II trip enriched her experience at Pacific and would encourage any student to make a trip abroad part of their four years.  “Everyone should take the opportunity, even if they can't go for a whole semester abroad,” Tuffey said.  “This Kenya experience was eye-opening.  To go with a big group of people and to have it organized the way it was great.”
Tuffey also acknowledged that the trip likely will have effects on her post-Pacific plans.  After going to nursing school, she would consider a chance to return to Kenya and spend a year serving in the type of health clinics she saw on the trip.  “I wouldn't make a lot of money (nurses in Kenya make about $200 per year), but that was not the reason I would be going.  I hope I get the opportunity to go back.”

Posted by Blake Timm (timmbr@pacificu.edu) on Apr 12, 2013 at 10:27 AM

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