GW students, alumni travel to World Cup in South Africa

Professor Lisa Delpy Neirotti speaks to a small group of students and press before departing for South Africa to study the World Cup. Photo courtesey GW Media Relations

Twenty students and alumni will  jet off to South Africa this month but beaches and safaris aren’t the focus of this summer trip.

The 17 students from the School of Business will study the impact of the world-renowned games on the developing country. One student athlete and two alumni will separately take 10 D.C. school-children to educate children in the D.C. area about the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Lisa Delpy Neirotti, an associate professor of tourism and sports management, will lead the students as part of an “Impacts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa” course.

“Our objective is to go behind the scenes and meet with FIFA sponsors and to gather data,” Neirotti said, noting that this will be the first time a sports-event of this caliber has been held in a developing country.

The class will attend multiple games, meet with leaders of the World Cup, conduct surveys of attendees and make assessments of social initiatives held in conjunction with the event.

“The goal is that we can identify some programs to recommend for FIFA that it can carry on to Brazil,” Neirotti said, noting that a number of major businesses have made commitments to help social causes in the area—like Powerade, who is holding a camp for kids during the games.

Sophomore Jake Miner and two GW alumni will travel alongside local college student-athletes from Georgetown and Howard to Johannesburg with 10 D.C. schoolchildren as part of the Team-Up for Youth Campaign, a subset of The Grassroots Project. The program aims to educate children ages 11 to 13 years olds about safe sex practices to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the District and South Africa.

“The campaign selected 10 kids to go to South Africa and we fundraised $50,000 to pay for their trips,” Miner said in an e-mail. “It’s a cultural infusion—we have the kids from D.C. pairing up with kids there to teach them about what they’ve learned in the program.”

Miner said makes the middle-school aged children more willing to listen to their advice.

“These kids look up to athletes,” Miner said. “Being a college athlete, you automatically get that credibility.”

Miner said he was moved to help with the trip to South Africa because of his work with The Grassroots Project in the District.

“Other than sub-Saharan Africa, D.C. has the highest rate of AIDS in the world,” Miner said. “Being involved in the program and seeing what an impact it has had on students inspired me.”

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