Peace Corps by decree


									    Agency launches first
    Podcasts | back page        Times
Building Friendships One Person At a Time
    Ask nearly all Peace Corps Vol-
                                                                     Peace Corps
                                                                                                                                                       spring 2007

unteers to describe their experience,
and they’ll undoubtedly share stories
about the local people they met in
their host country.
    Stories of extraordinary mar-
riage proposals, parades of curious
children at their heels, or bus rides
without personal space can make for
hours of entertaining conversations.
    Most Volunteers understand the
contrast between America and their
host country, and the many comforts
we enjoy in the U.S. Many Volunteers
have demonstrated that assimilating
into the culture of the host country
can be a challenge. For no matter how
hard you try, some American habits
just stand out.
    “My town is too small for me to
get by as anonymous,” says Volunteer
Hannah Mintek, a TEFL/English
teacher in Georgia. “Nobody is anony-
mous here, even if they are Georgian.
I fare well in simply being of similar
                                          Education Volunteer Leilani Sabzalian enjoys a moment with two young girls in Paraguay.
complexion and hair/eye color. I don’t
fare so well when I go for runs into      Many Volunteers discuss this topic          motivated, they also recommend                   “For me, it was the people I grew
the surrounding villages. It is strange   on their blogs and Web sites, offering      setting goals and continually asking          close to—my neighbors and stu-
to see a new face in the villages, and    tips for those having difficulties in       yourself: “What do I want to get out          dents—that allowed me get the most
extremely uncommon to see a young         their new communities, including:           of my service?”                               out of my time in Guyana,” says Kati
woman exercising here.”                   attending local events, networking             And, according to most, the hard           Ringer, who just finished her service.
    Through it all, returned Peace        (having a friend introduce you to a         work will pay off. When service is            “Now that my Peace Corps service is
Corps Volunteers, almost unani-           friend), starting a club, and especially    over, no matter how difficult, Volun-         over and I have left Guyana, I remain
mously, advise to appreciate and          making friends with a few well-con-         teers report great satisfaction and a         deeply connected with those who
make the most of these relationships.     nected youth in the area. To stay           willingness to do it all over again.          became my extended family.”

The Joys and Travails of Going It Together
   Serving in the Peace Corps pres-       into local life. “Being married makes       married couple they are frequently                The relationships forged between
ents rewards as well as challenges to     us seem older and more settled in the       compared to one another. Kate and             people in the local community and
every Volunteer. Just imagine though      eyes of the community, and people           Robert recalled that when they first          married Peace Corps Volunteers also
the Peace Corps experience times          take us more seriously as a result,”        arrived at their site, the locals would       allows for interesting exchanges and
two. That’s the everyday reality for      they say.                                   only address Robert (the male) in con-        insight into local cultures. For the
the seven percent of current Volun-           Serving as a married couple, Vol-       versation. “It was difficult for people       Goodpasters, those exchanges usually
teers who are experiencing their host     unteers also gain a unique perspective      to take Kate seriously as an individual       involve talk of the pitter-patter of little
countries as married couples.             on the social customs of their country.     Volunteer, as opposed to just being           feet. “We always get asked how many
   For married Volunteers, serving        For Wendy and Dulani Woods, serv-           Robert’s wife,” Kate and Robert say.          kids we have,” Lauren and David say.
together definitely has certain advan-    ing in Georgia, they have noticed one       In Georgia, Wendy and Dulani Woods            “When we say that we don’t have any
tages. Lauren and David Goodpaster,       major distinction in their interactions     have also become familiar with that           yet, people get very disappointed
Volunteers in Malawi, find that serv-     with the local community compared           country’s very traditional standards,         looks on their faces, and then always
ing as a couple provides them both        to their fellow Volunteers who are          where men tend to socialize in the eve-       ask us why we don’t just have one in
with a built-in 24-hour support sys-      single. “We don’t get asked if we want      nings while women are expected to be          our village—they ALL want us to have
tem. “When you want to share ideas,       to marry the friend’s cousin’s brother’s    at home tending to the house. “This           kids here! We just tell them that when
receive advice or constructive criti-     daughter/son/nephew/niece who is            can be an interesting dynamic to deal         the time is right, then we’re sure we’ll
cism, you don’t have to look very far,”   such a nice Georgian,” the couple           with as a married couple, as the man          have kids.”
Lauren and David say. As Volunteers       says.                                       will often be invited out with friends,           Like other couples serving to-
in Thailand, Kate Mattessich Valaas           The Valaas’ have experienced            but the woman’s female friends are            gether, they will have plenty of stories
and Robert Valaas feel their marital      first-hand how Thai culture views           usually at home looking after their           to share when they finish their Peace
status helped ease their transition       men and women differently. As a             families,” the Woods say.                     Corps service.

Director’s Vision: Volunteerism in the 21st Century
   Ron Tschetter was confirmed as         ford to sit on the sidelines, living
Peace Corps Director by the U.S. Sen-     in isolation. We must, and we
ate September 13, 2006. On Febru-         can, be active in helping to build
ary 5, 2007 he presented the staff        friendships, creating opportuni-
with his vision for the Peace Corps       ties, promoting healthier lives, and
and his key strategic initiatives. A      showing the world who we really
former Peace Corps Volunteer, Direc-      are as people.”
tor Tschetter’s service to Peace Corps        Director Tschetter would also
has now come full circle as he repre-     like to focus recruitment in a stra-
sents Peace Corps at the highest levels   tegic way, reaching out more to the
at home and abroad.                       50+ population in order to attract
    Pea c e C or ps Di rec t or Ron       older Volunteers, and developing
Tschetter developed his vision for        strategic partnerships with other
the agency over time as he listened,      organizations that share similar
observed, and met with staff and          outreach goals. In addition, he is
Peace Corps Volunteers in the field.      encouraging returned Peace Corps
Calling Peace Corps “the gold stan-       Volunteers to share their stories           Director Tschetter participates in Peace Corps/Morocco Volunteer Tia Tucker’s
dard” of volunteerism, Director           once they are back in the U.S. both         English class during his first overseas trip as director in November.
Tschetter urged all Peace Corps           to peak the interest of potential
Volunteers and staff to consider          Peace Corps Volunteers, and to              does it better than the Peace Corps.      community to give of themselves to
how they can promote world-class          encourage the idea of volunteerism          I like to say the Peace Corps is the      improve the lives of others.”
volunteerism in the 21st century.         in their own communities.                   gold standard for volunteerism. We           Director Tschetter encourages
    The mission and goals of the              Additionally, the Director would        know the value of the Peace Corps,        Volunteers to work with youth in
Peace Corps have remained the             like the agency to better measure           but we need to help others see it.        their countries of service as a good
same since the creation of the            our success and impact so that              So our challenge is to take this gold     way to instill the ideals of volunteer-
agency by President Kennedy in            there are more statistics to share,         standard to our partners around           ism abroad.
1961.                                     along with all of our wonderful             the world.                                   Although the agency will pursue
    Says Tschetter, “While a lot          Peace Corps stories.                            “Peace Corps Volunteers lead by       these new strategic opportunities,
about Peace Corps has changed                 Finally, Director Tschetter is          example at the grassroots level. As       the Director reaffirms that “The
since our time as Volunteers in           urging the promotion of volun-              Volunteers are sharing American           Peace Corps is already working very
the late 1960s, the three goals of        teerism not only at home but also           culture with those they serve, they       well, and that’s because of the job
the Peace Corps have not changed,         abroad. Says Tschetter, “The truth          can also share that spirit of volun-      that each of you is doing every day.
and they are as important today           is there is no country on the planet        teerism. I think back to our experi-      I’m so impressed by the enthusiasm
as ever.                                  better than America at volunteer-           ence in India, and how Nancy and          and the passion of everyone here at
    “As Americans, we cannot af-          ing, and no other organization              I encouraged members of our host          Peace Corps.”

       DIrEcTor’s ForuM
    Growing up in South Dakota,           something so bold, so enriching, and
I learned at a young age the value        so all-encompassing, you realize that
of hard work and serving others.          volunteering and giving to others is
Despite the difficulties of farming       actually a gift to yourself. Our lives,
on the parched South Dakotan soil,        and certainly our perspective were
my mother and my father were true         changed forever.
examples of generosity.                       When we returned home from
    One distinct memory was of my         India, Nancy and I settled down in
family learning that one of our neigh-    Minnesota, and began to figure out
bors had suffered fire damage to their    what the next steps in our lives would
home. I remember my father com-           be—probably what a lot of you may be
ing into our house with a large open      facing today.
box, walking directly to our kitchen,         I embarked on what most would
opening the pantry doors, and putting     call a successful career in the financial
our canned goods in the box to take       services and securities industry. This
to those neighbors to help feed and       really allowed me to hone my manage-
sustain them in their time of need.       ment and leadership skills and offered
    This spirit of compassion and giv-    a pretty good living for my family.
ing that my parents passed on to me           Last year, I received a phone call
is a big part of what led me and my       out of the blue that I never in a mil-
wife, Nancy, to become Peace Corps        lion years expected to receive. It was
Volunteers in 1966.                       the White House, and I was asked
    We were intrigued by the idea of      whether or not I was interested in be-
being totally immersed in a different     ing considered to become the Director       Director Tschetter and his wife Nancy served as community health Peace Corps
                                                                                      Volunteers in India from 1966-68.
culture and living in a very different    of the Peace Corps.
place. We decided to join, and six            Then in July, President Bush gave       trained for my whole life. Having          over the years, and believe that it is
months later, we were sent to India       me one of the greatest honors of my         been on the job for six months now,        attributable to grassroots work and
to be Peace Corps Volunteers for two      life by nominating me to become the         I can tell you that it has exceeded my     training I received as a Volunteer.
years.                                    seventeenth Director of the Peace           expectations.                              I would have never dreamed, as I
    We had no idea the powerful ef-       Corps.                                         My life has been full of twists,        boarded a plane in 1966 to India,
fect that this experience would have          This is an opportunity that I never     but has also been full of blessings. I     that 40 years later I’d be working at
on our lives. You see, once you do        expected, but it is one I have, in fact     consider all that I’ve been able to do     the Peace Corps as its Director.
The Greatest Grandmas
    P. Jay Werner, a Ukraine economic
development Volunteer, recently
organized a fundraiser called “Our
                                                                  Notes                                                                The project turned dumpsters
                                                                                                                                       along the city’s main boulevard into
                                                                                                                                       works of art through a community
                                                                                                                                       participatory design process that
                                                                                                                                       linked the neighborhood’s residents
Town’s Greatest Grandmas.” Pro-                                                                                                        with local art students. Participating
ceeds are supporting the installation                                                                                                  high school students generated
of laundry machines at the local                                                                                                       a series of art designs which they
children’s hospital in Uzhhorod.                                                                                                       submitted to the community for
    Five women competed for the                                                                                                        approval. Students and teachers
titles of Wise Grandma, Creative                                                                                                       then worked together to paint the
Grandma, Elegant Grandma, and                                                                                                          dumpsters (donated by the local
Super Grandma. Each grandmother                                                                                                        cleaning company) with the winning
was interviewed and asked a tough                                                                                                      designs.
question about childrearing. Follow-
ing the interviews, the grandmothers
participated in a bake-off competition
                                                  from the field
and a fashion show, where each grand-      cuses on HIV/AIDS education and                 the required funding on their own and
mother modeled a new suit donated          prevention by getting HIV/AIDS                  are now looking to produce a profes-
by the sponsors.                           messages and information out to taxi            sional CD, to be distributed free of
    Ticket sales and donations raised      drivers, “combi” drivers, long-distance         charge. They hope to complete the
$2,350. Prizes for a raffle and gifts      bus drivers, and passengers.                    project by year’s end.
were contributed by corporate spon-           Created by two Volunteers, the
sors’ Mary Kay Cosmetics and Hipp          project entails developing a CD that            ECUADoR
Organic Baby Foods.                        combines songs and other music from             Anti-Violence Skits
                                           a range of popular Namibian artists                Volunteer Kendra Goffredo and            JoRDAN
MALAwI                                     with HIV/AIDS awareness messages.               members of the Mothers’ Club of             Smiles Abound
Mapping Malawi                                The project targets drivers be-              Carpuela, a small Afro-Ecuadorian              Jordan Volunteers have been
   During July 2006, Peace Corps           cause they are often uniquely suscep-           community, recently led a successful        involved with four Operation Smile
Volunteer Stephanie Margherio com-         tible to HIV/AIDS. It also targets their        anti-domestic violence campaign.            missions during the past two years,
pleted a map mural project at her          passengers, who come from all levels               The mothers came together to             including a combined Iraqi and Jor-
secondary school in Malawi.                of Namibian society. The Volunteers             write, rehearse, and practice skits         dan mission in July 2005. Volunteers
   Utilizing the talents of her students   lined up popular Namibian artists who           based on examples of domestic vio-          work with 50 Iraqi children and family
and a small grant, Stephanie and her       included their recordings in Namibia            lence that occur in Carpuela.               members at a time who must stay in an
artists completed four murals for          Alive! Several artists were prepared to            After weeks of practice, the moth-       Amman hotel during the assessment,
Matenje Community Day Secondary            talk about HIV/AIDS and include their           ers presented their skits to a represen-    surgery, and recovery.
School: a world map, an Africa map,        comments on the final CD.                       tative from the provincial Comisaria           Volunteers rotate in teams of four
a Malawi political map, and a map of          The Volunteers secured most of               de la Mujer, who followed the skits         for three-day periods to minimize
Malawi’s physical features.                                                                with a presentation on the laws in          absence from their sites. They trans-
   Due to financial constraints and vul-                                                   Ecuador that protect women and              late, coordinate transportation and
nerable classrooms, the school could                                                       children and the rights guaranteed to       logistics, assist with errands or direc-
not provide maps in every classroom,                                                       them by those laws.                         tions, and provide entertainment for
so the map murals have become a                                                                                                        children and rest breaks for parents.
permanent, sustainable solution.                                                           ALbANIA                                        Know someone in your community
                                                                                           beautiful Trash                             who needs reconstructive surgery?
NAMIbIA                                                                                       Volunteer Ariel Ben-Amos worked          Both Operation Smile and Fresh Start
Social CDs                                                                                 with a local art school and accessed        would like your recommendations:
   Volunteers in Namibia are involved                                                      SPA funds for a city beautification; and
in Namibia Alive!, a project that fo-                                                      project.                          , click “Contact Us”

Volunteer Life Cont’d.

                                               “Baking” in an Oven-less Kitchen                                                                       Peace Corps
the afternoon. It seems that when you
are fasting the day comes to a slow,           If you are dreaming of chocolate chip      What to do:
screeching halt. You can get a lot done        cookies or homemade bread, but do          Place the large pot on a burner. Place
but you feel like doing nothing.               not have an oven, here is the solution!    the tuna cans on the bottom, inside               A publication for Peace Corps
    The sun seemed nailed to the same          You can bake almost anything, from         the pot. Turn the heat on low. Cover              Volunteers serving worldwide
point in the cloudless blue sky. Fi-           pizza to cakes, in a makeshift oven        with the lid to allow the pot to preheat.
                                                                                                                                            Amanda Host         Press Director
nally, at 6:45 it began melting behind         called a Dutch oven.                       Put whatever you are baking into the              Nathan Arnold               Editor
the hills of the West Bank above the                                                      small baking pans. Place these pans               Laura Lartigue              Editor
Jordan River. The call to prayer went          What you need:                             on top of the tuna cans. This allows              Tracy Waldman               Writer
                                                                                                                                            Erika Eckstrom             Writer
off from both mosques in the village,          * a large, heavy pot with a tight-fit-     air to circulate, thus baking evenly
signaling the sunset and the end of the        ting lid                                   and preventing burning. Cover and
fast for the day. My doorbell rang. I          * small baking pans that will fit within   bake. Check frequently by peeking in              Do you have something
opened up and looked down to find              the pot                                    slightly the first few times until you            to share with us?
my neighbor’s 8-year-old daughter              * 2 empty tuna cans with the tops and      get the temperature and timing down.             We welcome all Volunteer
holding up a big tray of food—chicken          bottoms removed                            After that, use a tight lid to keep in the       submissions or suggestions.
breast, rice, soup, olives, hot bread. I       * stove-top burner or hot plate            heat and prevent your baked goods                Inquiries may be made to:
took it in my hand and said thank you.                                                    from drying out.                                    Peace Corps Times
Perhaps frightened at the sound of the                                                                                                        c/o Press Office
                                            From “Babushka’s Kitchen” Volume III, Peace Corps/Ukraine, 2006
strange foreign voice, she darted away,                                                                                                       1111 20th St NW
leaving me there with my door open         We’d like to hear from you! What would you like to learn more about from other                     Washington DC 20526
to a dark-red sky, a retired sun, and a    Volunteers or development experts? Do you have any recipes to share? Please                        or
big plate of food that I had waited all    write and let us know and we will consider your ideas for upcoming issues of the
day for. Only 29 more days.                Peace Corps Times:
                                                                                       you are only truly fasting if nothing        fast at sunset and “Praise God” when
                                                                                       passes your lips (including water)           you have finished eating. I spent time
                                                                                       from sunrise to sunset, every day, for       getting to know my counterpart Hus-

                                                                                       the entire month.                            sein on a mat outside in the sun while
                                                                                           With that in mind, my alarm went         he taught me two Arabic proverbs:
                                                                                       off at 4:30 before sunrise that morn-            He who lies can’t boil an egg.
                                               VoluNTEEr lIFE                          ing and I ate the morning meal, which            At every wedding he has a loaf of
                                                     By Joseph Freeman                 is called the “Sahoor” in Arabic. I ate      bread.
                                                      Jordan Volunteer                 a few chewy leathery dates, a piece of           I’ve been in my village for four
New Partnership Allows                                                                 bread, some cheese, and many large           months now, and I still don’t know
Volunteers to Pursue                            In the teacher’s lounge on my first    gulps of water. It was unnerving to          exactly what those two mean.
bachelor’s Degrees                          day at work, no one was drinking           gaze out at the morning darkness after           I got my first taste of what passes
   The Peace Corps and Metropoli-           tea. There were no cups of coffee,         I took my last sip of water and realize      for horseplay among Jordanian stu-
tan State University in St. Paul, Minn.,    and you had no chance of bumming           that I would not drink or eat anything       dents when a 5th grader was dragged
have unveiled a new partnership that        a cigarette. In Jordan, the ubiquitous     again until the sun had clocked in           into the principal’s office for bringing
will allow graduates from community         absence of these three things can only     and out.                                     in a live scorpion to school and slip-
colleges to pursue bachelor’s degrees       mean one thing: It’s Ramadan. The              I wasn’t really nervous about be-        ping it down the back of a classmate’s
while serving in the Peace Corps.           first day of the Islamic holy month of     ing able to “make it.” I had imagined        shirt as a joke.
   For some community college stu-          fasting happened to coincide with my       a teacher’s lounge full of famished,             I observed a 10th grade class in
dents, earning an associate’s degree        first day of teaching.                     moody educators unable to focus on           which they were practicing past-tense
is a stepping stone on the path to a            I live in a village of about 8,000     anything but the unraveling hours            verbs. A student wrote a sample sen-
bachelor’s degree, and 27 months of         people in the North-West region of         and aching stomachs. With the stu-           tence on the board that read, “We went
Peace Corps service does not always         Jordan. The Jordan Valley spreads          dents I could only guess, since most         to the Eminem party.” He returned to
factor into their career goals. This        out far and wide below, and the sur-       Jordanian children will at least try         his seat, lifted up his binder revealing
pilot program at Metropolitan State         rounding hills are peppered with           to start fasting as early as 3rd grade.      a blue folder with a sticker of the great
University is designed to support those     clump after green clump of olive           I was wrong.                                 white rapper on the front. He winked
applicants who have received an Asso-       trees. Not too far off, the once rush-         The teacher’s lounge on that first       at me and went back to work.
ciate of Arts degree from a community       ing Jordan River trickles along like a     day turned out to be full of chatter,            By 12:30, after a surprisingly satis-
college and would like to work toward       small stream.                              laughter, and stimulating conversa-          fying first day at school, I meandered
their bachelor’s degree while serving.          Like most Volunteers in Jordan,        tion. I learned that in Islam you are        home to wait for the sunset.
                                            I was going to try and fast for the        supposed to say, in Arabic, “In the              Fasting only became difficult in
world wise Schools                          entire month. Islam stipulates that        name of God,” before you break the                             Continued on page 3
Launches Podcasts
    The Coverdell World Wise Schools
                                            A balanced Life
program has just launched the agency’s
first podcast series, called Volunteer      Tanzania | September 8, 2006                 WHaT VoluNTEErs
Voices, featuring stories written and           [My husband] has come to the
read by Peace Corps Volunteers.             conclusion that “every site is balanced”
    The World Wise Schools program          and I agree with him. Sure we may
has also unveiled their redesigned          have a nonexistent school community
Web site. Educators and currently           and no water, but our town is full of
serving Peace Corps Volunteers can          great people and we have electricity.
now access information about the Cor-       Sure other volunteers have an awesome
respondence Match program, which            view of Kilimanjaro and water, but they
connects U.S. classrooms with Peace         always are assumed to be tourists and
Corps Volunteers overseas.                  the cost of living is higher.        

Volunteer Statistics In                     The Melting Pot
   Continuing a trend that has seen         Ukraine | September 15, 2006
the number of Peace Corps Volun-                A debate always arises when they
teers across the world increase since       name Arnold Schwarzenegger [and
9/11/2001, Americans have again this
year responded to the call.
                                            question] whether he’s “American.”
                                                I think they have no idea what a big
                                                                                                                                          arE saYING
   Volunteers in the field represent the    question that is, and I enjoy watching
second highest total in over 30 years, at   their thoughts unravel. First they say     grader used it when he thought he was         vocab like evil step mother, wicked
7,749. While a slight decrease from last    he’s not American because he wasn’t        using the word for clothes in general.        witch, dwarfs, and all the world of
year’s high, this total represents over     born in the U.S. Then usually someone          I asked both students, “Do you know       make believe. I’m going to keep up the
one thousand more Volunteers than           will argue, but he lives there! And I      what ‘underwear’ means?”                      reading with her, as long as she’s got the
were in service five years ago. Other       say, I live in Ukraine, does that make         “No.”                                     energy to do it!
interesting facts include: 59 percent of    me get the idea. At the        “Chiloti,” I said.              
Volunteers are female, 93 percent are       end of the discussion I have them vote         The seventh graders laughed for 15
single, and 16 percent are minorities.      whether or not he’s American. All of my    seconds. The fifth graders laughed for        Creative Foods 101
                                            classes have decided he is. The deciding   nearly a full minute. It’s good to be back    Moldova | November 4, 2006
washington on Top                           arguments: he is a politician, he speaks   in the classroom.                                 There’s nothing like teaching in a
   For 20 years the University of Wis-      English, and most importantly, he has                      foreign language to give you a little bit
consin has been the top producer of         an American wife.                                                                        of confidence. At the end of the seminar,
Peace Corps Volunteers, but no more.                     Spanish Vocabulary                            we organized a “haunted house” to cel-
This year, the University of Washing-                                                  Peru | September 5, 2006                      ebrate Halloween, complete with bob-
ton’s 110 Volunteers in service lands       Under where?                                   The 9-year-old girl that lives with       bing for apples and boxes containing
them on top. In the medium-sized            Moldova | September 23, 2006               us, Merli, is my little buddy. You could      a (macaroni) brain, eyes plucked from
schools category, George Washington            In both my fifth-grade class and        call her my host sister.                      bad students (wet grapes), and severed
University was No. 1, and in the small      seventh-grade class this week, students        We’ve begun reading fairy tales           ears (dough shaped into an ear).
schools category, the University of         used the word “underwear” in a sen-        every night before bed. It’s good read-           Always nice to toss in a bit of Ameri-
Puget Sound vaulted four spots into         tence. The seventh grader used it as an    ing practice for her and me! Besides          can culture along with the lessons.
the top spot.                               example of a compound noun. The fifth      I’m learning all kinds of new Spanish

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