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September 6, 2012 11:54 AM
TwinsMatthew, tell the class what you did this summer.
My dad took us to Santa’s Workshop in Colorado.
And what about you, Alyssa? What did you do?
My went camping in the Pecos.
And Jazmin, did you go anywhere?
We went to Santa Fe.
Coleton, what did you and Hunter do this summer?
We went to Africa to teach kids to play tennis.
It’s true. The Hootman brothers, 11-year-old identical twins, had a summer adventure they won’t soon forget. They traveled with their parents, Ali and Kent Hootman, and a few other relatives, to four countries in Africa – Republic of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.  A memorable stop on this journey was Zambia, a mineral-rich but desperately poor landlocked republic. To most of Zambia, which is roughly the size of Texas, tennis does not exist.
Why did you guys go there? What was behind this trip?
Coleton:  Our great Aunt Judy wanted us to do something for other people.
Hunter: She wants us to make an impact. 
Coleton: She wants us to give gifts that change lives.
You both play tennis on Desert Ridge Middle School and you took part in Junior Team Tennis this summer.  Is that how you decided on the gifts?
Hunter: Yeah, it was kind of easy when that happened.
So what did you do?
Hunter:  We went to Sports Authority and bought 22 rackets, a Quick Start net and some foam balls. The USTA gave us some water bottles.
Mom: We were limited in the amount of luggage we could take. Thus, only one net.
How long did it take you to get there?
Coleton: I don’t know, but we flew a long time.
Mom:  Twenty-six hours to Johannesburg.
How did you know where to take the tennis gear?
Coleton:  We have pen pals in Zambia.  Mine is named Jackson.
Hunter:  Mine is Emmanuel.
Mom: They’re both about 11, like Coleton and Hunter, but they’re in the fourth grade. They attend school in the city of Livingstone. The population of Livingston is 137,000. 
Hunter:  It’s near Victoria Falls. 
So how long had you two been writing to Zambia?
Coleton: A while. Most pen pals never meet. We wanted to meet ours.
Hunter:  We wanted to bring them something that represents our life here. 
Mom:  This was a real learning opportunity for our children. They took a safari and went other places, but the Zambia school was the principal stop on the trip.
Tell me about the school.
Coleton: It’s called Ebenezer Trust. 
Hunter: Everybody there speaks English. There are no computers.
Mom:   It’s pre-K to 7th grade, 350 students in all.  About 85 percent of the kids are orphans whose parents have died of AIDS.   Zambia is the cradle of AIDS.
Boy_with_ballSo when did the tennis introduction come in?
Coleton:  After we ate lunch at the school, we went to this playground.
Hunter:  It was kind of a courtyard. Concrete.  
Coleton:  They called out the names of our pen pals and they came and hugged us.  They were really happy to see us.
Mom: The p.e. teacher in the school was so gung-ho.  We set up the portable net and the p.e. teacher right away wanted to know the rules of tennis. Everybody in Zambia plays soccer.  Nobody in Livingstone knew a thing about tennis. 
Hunter: They were pretty good for beginners.
Coleton: No one had seen a tennis racket before.
Hunter:  Every kid got a chance to hit ball.  They were laughing and they got real excited.  The very little kids were spectators and they were having a lot of fun just watching.
Mom: We stayed about a half a day in the school. 
Are you planning to go back to Zambia?
Coleton:  We want to . . .  some day.
Hunter: We want to see how they are playing tennis now with all the rackets and equipment we gave them.
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