Ellsworth Woman Spends Two Weeks as Sports Volunteer at South African School

first_img Latest posts by admin (see all) Bio Latest Posts State budget vs. job creation – January 22, 2015 ELLSWORTH — Laura Archer is back home in Ellsworth now after spending two weeks in South Africa introducing youngsters in grades 4-7 to the world of organized sports.Laura Archer of Ellsworth is surrounded by some of the youngsters with whom she worked during two weeks as a sports volunteer at a South African school near Cape Town.ELLSWORTH — Laura Archer is back home in Ellsworth now after spending two weeks in South Africa introducing youngsters in grades 4-7 to the world of organized sports.And her first volunteer experience has convinced her that she’d like to do it again.Like many of her contemporaries, Archer has been a bit at loose ends since graduating from Husson University in 2009 with a degree in business sports management.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textWith the national and state economies still struggling to recover from a prolonged recession, Archer was unable to find a job in her field.“I’d gotten done with school and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” said Archer, who had excelled at basketball as a student at Ellsworth High School and went on to play for four years at Husson.“I made a ‘bucket list’ of things I wanted to do in my life,” she said, “and the number one thing was to volunteer in a foreign country.”Through some Internet research, she discovered Global Vision International in London.“They do a lot of different programs but a few sports-specific volunteer ones,” she said. “It was a good fit. I talked with people in South Africa who worked for the company and decided that I really wanted to do it.”Archer had to come up with the money to fund the trip herself, which she managed to do.“More than half of what I paid goes directly to the school where I was working, so it didn’t really bother me too much,” she said.Archer left for South Africa on Oct. 9, traveling to Gordon’s Bay, about a half-hour from Cape Town, where she would work with youngsters at the Nonzamo ACJ School.“They don’t really have much in the way of organized sports,” she said. “The only reason they have any is because volunteers from this company go and do it.”After getting settled in at the company’s gated apartments, located just a few minutes from the school, Archer and her fellow volunteers began their work with the youngsters in their group.“Sports is a huge part of everyone’s life there,” she said, noting that the World Cup soccer competition held earlier this year in South Africa was “a huge deal for them.”Soccer — football to them — is the sport of choice, said Archer, and they play it whenever they can.But there were other activities, too, including netball, a game with some similarity to basketball.“You can’t move your feet when you have the ball,” said Archer, “and you must be in a designated area to shoot. And there’s no backboard, just a rim.“The girls were much better than the boys at this,” she added.For the first week, the focus was on netball and cricket.In the second week, the youngsters learned ultimate Frisbee (“they’d never seen a Frisbee before”) from another volunteer who had played the game.Archer and her colleagues also set up circuit training sessions in which the youngsters worked with hula hoops, did sit-ups, sprints and push-ups and worked on hand-eye coordination.Archer puts some of her young charges through a round of push-ups.“They try to have the volunteers do things they know,” said Archer. “They want students to know why you do it, and how it benefits.”Archer also found some time for herself while in South Africa.That included a weekend visit to Cape Town, a hike of Table Mountain and a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.There even was time for a brief safari in a regional game preserve.“We saw elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes and even got charged by a rhinoceros — that was scary,” said Archer.“It was a good mix of being with the kids and being able to see the sights there,” she said.All too soon, the two weeks were over.“I would definitely go back,” said Archer. “And I definitely want to try to do another volunteer experience. It was worth it.“I had never gone off by myself,” she explained. “It made me realize that, if I think I can do it, I can do it.”For now, though, it’s back to the job hunt.This winter, Archer will be putting her basketball skills and knowledge to use as freshman girls’ coach at Mount Desert Island High School.For more community news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.center_img House fire in Winter Harbor – October 27, 2014 Hancock County Court News Nov. 3 thorugh Dec. 11 – January 22, 2015 adminlast_img

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