If you were on campus for basketball tournament you probably noticed the swarms of high schoolers in the dorms, at the cafeteria, and most importantly playing basketball. The annual Union College invitational tournament of 2017 lasted from Feb. 15 to Feb. 19 and featured 11 different academy teams. This was also the first year hosting the boys and girls teams from the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia.
“When I first heard that we were coming to the U.S we were all excited of course, but we didn’t feel it yet until we were in the plane,” says boys player Danny Frederick. “Visiting Union made me realize more opportunities exist outside of Pohnpei.”
“Last year the teams went to Walla Walla for tournament, but this year they didn’t have enough room,” explains sophomore business major and international volunteer Caleb Haakenson, “But since there were so many student missionaries from Union (in Pohnpei) this year we had the idea of coming here instead.”
Even though it may not seem like it at first glance, sponsoring two teams to come for tournament weekend is quite the challenge. The time spent on planning to come here, raising money needed for food, flight tickets, transportation and other necessities took about five months. A large bulk of it all came together in the last couple of weeks before tournament started.
Haakenson elaborates that the families help fundraise and the Union international volunteers went to various business, talked to congressmen and helped get Union involved. “All of the help and support we received made it possible for us to come here,” he says.
As for the teams, they played a total of six games combined with the boys team winning two games. “Even when the girls’ team lost, they still had a blast and they enjoyed playing,” says Haakenson. “The boys had fun, too, and they took it a little more seriously, but all the players loved being here at Union.”
Girls player Grace Pangelinan found the competition to be stronger at Union, but she says, “They showed good sportsmanship and everyone was friendly. I was excited and couldn’t wait for what God had planned for me.”
Another international volunteer on the island is junior business marketing major Samuel Dinzey, who is in his first year serving by teaching computer classes and choir at the Pohnpei Seventh-day Adventist school. “Because of the time I spent as a student ambassador, I was able to develop a relationship with the staff members who worked in the student enrollment department and was able to contact the people able to make this trip possible,” Dinzey shares.
Caroline Guchu is a sophomore studying communication.