Crusaders experience China (#GoNNUCrusaders)

Last Updated 14 November, 2014

NNU’s Division 2 Volleyball Team had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity June 7-18, 2014 when they traveled to China for a cultural exchange tour that included playing more than a half-dozen matches against Chinese collegiate teams.

“It’s something we wanted to immerse ourselves in, and it gave us a different outlook on the world,” NNU Volleyball Head Coach Doug English said of the trip.

The unique opportunity to play in a country so different from the United States, along with the chance to visit historical sights and to see a vastly different culture, drove the Crusaders’ desire to make this exchange possible. “Just to experience a whole new culture with our best friends was an incredible chance we’re never ever going to get to have again,” said Elayna Rice, junior outside hitter from Billings, Mont.

“Just to experience a whole new culture with our best friends was an incredible chance we’re never ever going to get to have again.”

The trip also provided on-court benefits. First, the Crusaders got two extra weeks of playing time during the summer that their opponents did not. “I think the benefit has been immediate. Because we had opportunity to play volleyball in the summer, we have a head start on this season,” English said.

They also had opportunities to play in some unique situations that tested their teamwork and adaptability. Michelle Terpstra, senior setter for Ripon, Calif. and team captain said, “We learned how to work in sometimes stressful situations. One time we played outside on the pavement, which was definitely different for us. Then playing indoors, we actually played against a men’s team instead of a women’s team, so that was different, but they were all really good athletes and it was really fun.” 

Second, the tour was an incredible chance for girls to bond as a team because, being in a foreign land, they depended on each other more than ever. That bonding experience began in advance as the team completed two months of intense Chinese language classes and fundraised together to raise the travel expenses.

The tour is the first of what Dr. Ben Earwicker, chair of NNU’s Department of Psychology, Sociology and Criminal Justice and chair of the Department of Language, Literature and Culture, expects will be many exchanges between NNU and China in future years.

Michelle summed up the trip well: “It was a lot of fun. We really didn’t know what to expect going in, but it was an experience of a lifetime coming out of it. We enjoyed every single part of it and wouldn't trade that experience for the world.”