By: Tracy Anderson
In a city currently teeming with large sporting venues, national team pride, and world-class athletes, 40 UConn students are helping to create a basketball culture that will last well beyond the Olympic closing ceremonies this weekend.
The students are spending six weeks this summer in London, England, learning about community building and coaching local kids in basketball fundamentals as the internship component of the UConn in London Summer Olympics Study Abroad program. The internship placements are in London schools, inner city youth projects, and the local women’s basketball sector.
“It’s interesting to come to a country where basketball isn’t a predominant sport. In most cases, we had to teach the children from scratch,” says UConn student Danielle Foraker ’13 (ENG). “Although difficult at times, it has really been a great experience. It was cool to see the kids be so passionate about a sport that most people do not play in their country.”
The internship placements were identified by Dave Hopper of Education, Training, and Citizenship, a London-based non-profit organization, and the UConn students are trained, mentored, and supervised by Hopper and Holly Hennick, a UConn student and former UConn in London participant, who helped recruit students for the Summer Olympics program.
The resident director for UConn in London, Jill Fenton, says, “I read the students’ reflection logs each week, and over and over again they express their absolute joy in passing on basketball skills. Our students are delighting in making a real difference in communities where everyday life is really very difficult.”