William Jessup University volleyball players and roommates Zoey Gilbert and Elaina Murphy — a 2010 Truckee High grad — were not on campus for the traditional start of the 72-year-old Rocklin university’s spring semester. Instead, the duo is teaching physical education classes and providing an afterschool program to kids in Gordon Bay, South Africa, just south of Cape Town.“I’ve always been interested in missions and travel so I decided to do a Google search and found this great opportunity that I shared with Elaina,” Gilbert explained before the trip. “During my search, I came across an organization called Global Vision International (GVI) and later, Elaina and I decided we wanted to be a part of something bigger.”GVI runs more than 100 projects in 25 countries and annually sends 3,000-plus volunteers around the globe to assist with their various programs. GVI volunteers fill a critical void in the fields of environmental research, conservation, education and community development. In Gordon Bay, the duo anticipated working with fourth- to seventh-grade students and making an impact in the lives of the children attending the much-needed program. The program aims to provide more personal attention to these students from the impoverished townships surrounding the Cape Town area.Expecting to work with nearly 2,000 kids during their two-week visit, the young athletes said they were excited for the opportunity to learn more about African culture and meet other volunteers from all around the world.The pair raised nearly $10,000 to participate in this unique endeavor. “Our fundraising included writing and mailing donation letters, saving every penny we had and even speaking to my home church, (Sierra Bible Church in Truckee) about the project,” said Murphy, a psychology major.The girls are sophomores and setters who first met because of their involvement with the volleyball team at the growing university. “My first interaction with Zoey was when she sent me an e-mail explaining she was my roommate. Naturally, I checked out everything she had posted on Facebook and wasn’t sure what to expect once I met her,” Murphy said. “Finally we met in person during a week-long retreat with our volleyball team and hit it off instantly. We’ve been friends ever since.”Instructors at William Jessup University have graciously supported the students with their venture, allowing them to make up missed class time and course work.Interestingly, both 19-year-olds had never been on a mission’s trip before now, nor have they traveled outside of the country.— This article was submitted to Sports Editor Sylas Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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