Nov. 11, 2013
WASHINGTON - This past summer, two Georgetown softball players traveled abroad to further their educational experiences during their four years at Georgetown. Junior pitcher Lauren O'Leary (La Canada, Calif./La Canada) studied at the ESADE Business School in Spain and sophomore catcher Molly Morrison (Northfield, Ill./New Trier) traveled to Zanzibar in Tanzania, which is located in Eastern Africa.
For student-athletes, it can be difficult to study aboard due to practice and regular-season schedules. "It was nice that it was in summer because I had a month when I came back to relax and get readjusted before I started back at school again," said O'Leary.
O'Leary spent six weeks, including the month of July, in Spain. The marketing and management double-major was enrolled in the ESADE Business School, located in Barcelona, Spain, where she was able to take two classes within her majors. When she wasn't studying international marketing and entrepreneurship from one of the top business schools on the globe, she was able to soak in the Spanish culture.
There was a language barrier for O'Leary, who hadn't taken Spanish since high school, but she went abroad with 25 other students from Georgetown, who she confessed were better at Spanish than she was. All of the students were able to take a Spanish class in order to learn and improve their language skills as well.
There were some cultural adjustments for the junior pitcher. Siesta was one of these adjustments. Translated to afternoon nap, the small residential town outside of Barcelona where O'Leary stayed would close down for the three hours every day for siesta from 2-5 p.m. "We would go out and try to get food and everything would be closed. And that was when we quickly realized that nobody ate dinner until 10 p.m.," said O'Leary.
"We also had the chance to travel to Nice, France and another weekend, I went to London to visit my cousin who was studying abroad as well," said O'Leary, the southern-California native.
Nice is in the southeast part of France located on the Mediterranean Sea.
Molly Morrison traveled to Zanzibar where she served as a volunteer teacher. She found a flyer at a coffee shop on campus in the spring and continued to see flyers posted around her dormitories. After an informational meeting, Morrison realized that this was not only something she wanted to do, but felt called to do.
In her first time leaving the United States, the sophomore catcher traveled with an organization called One Heart Source. According to their website, One Heart Source "is a non-profit organization designed to empower young people through education, and to provide high quality education and care for vulnerable children in Tanzania and South Africa."
"They started out as an organization that would build orphanages for children whose parents died from HIV/AIDS," said Morrison. "But they realized that they cannot effectively teach HIV/AIDS prevention when there is a lack of education programs."
Morrison, who had not previously thought of becoming an educator, recently declared her major as biology of global health. "Teaching was one of my greatest and most rewarding experiences," she said.
Morrison taught a sixth-grade English class and a fourth-grade math class in addition to the mentoring she did with four third-graders. In the evening, Morrison and her group worked with adults in the community to improve their English skills. She lived with a host family whose native-tongue was Swahili which posed a language barrier for the Illinois resident.
"Although I was there as the educator, the people taught me so much more about myself than I could ever imagine," Morrison said. "Every time something clicked for one of my students, whether it was how to subtract using borrowing or where to label elbow on the body, their faces lit up with excitement and pride, and I knew this was exactly where I needed to be."
"Moving forward, a day doesn't go by that I don't think about my family back in Zanzibar or my students running around on the soccer field. I am constantly reminded of not only how lucky I am to have such an amazing and supportive family here and to be a student-athlete at Georgetown, but most importantly for the opportunities I've had and where those have taken me," Morrison said.
O'Leary pitched 16 complete games last season with two shutouts in her 35 starts. Morrison started 16 games at catcher and appeared in 22 games for the Hoyas in her freshman season.
The Georgetown softball team has spent the fall practicing, playing fall games and helping out in the community with service projects. The Hoyas open their season with five games at the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament from Feb. 7 to Feb. 9, 2014 in Fort Myers, Fla.