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Life Skills Manual: Education With a Message
As the HIV/AIDS pandemic con- “It was the biggest mistake I ever
tinues to ravage countries across the made as a Peace Corps Volunteer,”
globe, prevention and care are becom- Callahan said. “They were so offended
ing an important part of many Peace that they weren’t even listening any-
Corps Volunteers’ assignments. Cur- more.”
rently, 2,600 Volunteers are working She quickly redirected the presen-
in HIV/AIDS—the highest number tation to focus on healthy lifestyles
ever. And as more Volunteers take on and behavior change. Soon after, the
this important task, many are turning Life Skills concepts were born.
to the Life Skills Manual. Because the Life Skills Manual fo-
The Life Skills Manual works to cuses on decision-making skills, Vol-
bridge the gap between information unteers can use the manual’s concepts
and behavior change in educating in communities where cultural taboos
communit ies about prevent frank discussions
HIV/AIDS. The man-
ual offers lesson plans,
You need to of HIV/AIDS. In addition
to providing information
games, and exercises frame the about prevention, the
to engage communities manual also offers a way
and discuss the effects materials to to help Volunteers en-
the people so courage positive behavior
change in their host com-
K athy Callahan de-
veloped the Life Skills
they really munities.
Manual when she was feel it is change takes a long time,”
an HIV/AIDS Volun- said Praya Baruch, who
teer in Malawi from about them works in the Peace Corps’
1996-98. As a district Office of AIDS Relief.
AIDS coordinator, Callahan was The trust Volunteers build over their
responsible for training community two years in host communities begins
leaders in prevention and education. the process that, hopefully, leads to
But her first attempt was far from lasting change.
successful. The Life Skills Manual helps
After assembling a group at the communities build “planks” in the
local AIDS center, Callahan and her bridge from information to behavior
colleagues began a frank presentation change, by providing them with skills
about sexual health. Her audience was and confidence to make better and
Peace Corps Volunteer Mary McCoy and her collagues in Tonga prepare
not pleased. healthier decisions. It also focuses on
materials that will be used for discussions on HIV/AIDS in her host community.
building values to help people
who might fall off the bridge to
volunteers then & now a healthier life.
“There was something about
Although originally developed for
use in African posts, the Life Skills
and facilitated its translation into
the local languages of Ukrainian and
the bridge model that resonat- Manual is highly adaptable to any Russian.
ed with people,” Callahan said. country or age group. “For any country, you need to
She would often find copies of Volunteers can use the Life Skills frame the materials to the people so
the bridge, photocopied from Manual in men’s and women’s clubs, they really feel it is about them,” said
the Life Skills Manual, on the religious groups, and with the elderly Petrozzola.
walls of schools and churches and teenagers. The manual is avail- But no matter how it is adapted,
in her district. able in Peace Corps’ Online Library most Volunteers who work with HIV
The concept was so popu- in English, French, and Swahili. activities agree that trying to get the
lar that UNICEF funded its In addition, many Volunteers take messages across is the most impor-
common sectors expansion. The manual also the Life Skills Manual and adapt it tant aspect of HIV/AIDS training.
Education Health Agriculture Other attracted attention at Peace for their host country’s culture and Callahan, who lost many Malawian
Urban Public Works Corps headquarters, where, traditions. Returned Volunteer and friends to AIDS, said the legacy of
Action in 2002, staff edited it and now Deputy Country Director for the manual is its reach in Peace Corps
additional Business Environment Youth
sectors 2005 added a section on the biology Ukraine Helen Petrozzola felt that posts throughout the world. Years
of the disease. In 2003, the some of the African images and ac- later, her memories from Malawi
1963 new edition received the “Best tivities would send the wrong message drive her in her work as an HIV/AIDS
Practices” recognition from the to a Ukrainian audience that AIDS is education trainer.
2005 United Nations Educational, an Africa-only problem. So, during “The hope and the strength of that
Scientific and Cultural Organi- her service she adapted the manual, community is why AIDS is still my
0 20 40 60 80 100 zation. titling it “Sound Mind, Sound Body,” passion,” she said.
BEHIND THE VoluNTEEr
Peace Corps Cam: A Glimpse at Volunteer Life
Word gets out quickly in the open On a recent shoot in Ukraine,
markets of the world when Peace covering the Peace Corps’ largest
Corps Volunteers come shopping. Just program, video production manager
imagine, then, the stir caused by a Vol- Karen Chaput led a five-person crew
unteer with a camera crew in tow. to collect material for use in HIV/
Though it’s not quite Hollywood, AIDS and recruitment videos and
some Volunteers get a chance to “star” photographs. Filming for a week, and
in Peace Corps-produced photo and often visiting two sites a day, the shoot
video shoots. By talking about their involved a well-orchestrated collabo-
experiences on camera, these Vol- ration among the country staff, the
unteers pique the interest of future crew, and headquarters.
applicants and help explain in a very Creating these visuals also takes
real way what it’s like to volunteer. Al- a tremendous amount of logistical
most anyone who has had an inkling effort from the Volunteers themselves.
to join the Peace Corps has searched For instance, Kate Tyler of Monroe
for testimonials or images that can Center, Ill., could not have imagined
help describe the Peace Corps experi- that during a group discussion with
ence. Especially in today’s connected her students, the local municipality
society, those interested in joining the would decide that now was the time
Peace Corps want to see Volunteers to start digging a new road. Some-
making a difference before commit- times, schedules do not coincide. For
ting two years of their lives to serve in instance, being able to find a room full
another country. of students to film—when the campus
The Peace Corps Office of Com- is on fall break—is challenging at best.
munications makes this possible And having your site be a featured
by collecting photos and footage of backdrop probably didn’t occur to
Volunteers, which they turn into Adam Howell of Lebanon, Tenn.,
recruitment videos, marketing bro- whose modest home—which sits next
chures, and website content. Headed to the neighbor’s chicken coop—was
by Richard Parker, the Office of Com- featured in a recent shoot.
munications is the creative arm of the At one typical stop, Volunteer
Peace Corps, and its staff includes Vanessa Villalva of Austin, Texas, met
a video/photo production team; an the crew outside a scenic park in her
Nicole Zdrojewski walks the market in her host community in Ukraine while a editorial, design, and print produc- host community with a friend and
Peace Corps cameraman films her community interactions for an agency video. tion team; a marketing team; and a one of her students. After scoping out
Web team. the area, a place off a major walkway
Continued on back page
In March, the Peace Corps will to visit Afghanistan. There, I had a
celebrate 45 years of Volunteer meeting with the Afghan deputy
legacies—beginning when the first prime minister and minister for
group entered Ghana in 1961 and women’s affairs, Sima Samar. I was
continuing with our newest program going to talk about the Peace Corps
in Mexico. Pause for a moment to and share the concept, the vision,
grasp the magnitude of lives im- and the mission of the Peace Corps.
pacted by over 182,000 Volunteers, Mid-conversation, she stopped me
and you will begin to put into per- and said, “Mr. Director, you don’t
spective the enormity of the work have to tell me about the Peace
you are doing to better the lives of Corps. It was Peace Corps Volun-
others. teers who taught me English the last
The theme for the 45th anni- time the Peace Corps was here in
versary celebration is “A legacy of Afghanistan.”
service at home and abroad.” As As an agency, the Peace Corps
we compiled legacy stories from has much to celebrate this year.
Director Vasquez discusses Crisis Corps’ response in the Gulf States to Hurricane
every post to mark the occasion, Peace Corps continues to expand,
Katrina with Volunteer Matthew Koltermann, who first served in Kenya ‘02-04.
the results were extraordinary—and and meet the needs of our host
everything I have come to expect countries. Currently, 7,810 Volun- ensure residents could begin to put there is a private hope and dream
from Volunteers. From teaching teers serve in 75 countries, the their lives back together. which, fulfilled, can be translated
future world leaders to establish- highest number in 30 years. We also Today, in the new millennium, into benefit for everyone.”
ing libraries and schools to helping made the decision to work domesti- the Peace Corps’ mission and the Whether you are a trainee new
others create their own successful cally for the first time. In response legacies you leave are more vital to your country or entering your
business, people will remember to Hurricane Katrina, Volunteers than ever for building bonds of third year of service, always be
your efforts. During my travels, I like Ballard Krudop, whose New Or- friendship across an ever-global aware of the legacy you leave and
am always honored to meet those leans house was flooded, and Mat- world, and for finding common ways how far reaching it will be. And let
who have benefitted from the hard thew Koltermann put the needs of to address new global challenges, us begin creating legacies for the
work of Peace Corps Volunteers others ahead of their own lives. And like HIV/AIDS. next 45 years.
like yourself. when the 9th Ward of New Orleans In the now immortal words of
For example, when I traveled was ready to reopen, a team of Cri- President John F. Kennedy, whose
for the first time as director of the sis Corps Volunteers answered the vision you help achieve across the
Peace Corps, I had the opportunity call to staff the disaster center and globe every day: “In each of us,
Innovative approaches to
Peace Corps Volunteer Jacob Cul-
Notes El SAlVADoR
When Sarah Pattison casually left
her New Orleans home in August, she
len and other Cape Verde Volunteers figured it would be for three days—at
have been helping generate youth the most— and just a minor delay on
interest in a contest called Scenarios her road to Peace Corps staging and El
from Africa. Salvador. Yet, as the water kept rising,
The contest calls upon youth across and her family home filled with foot
Africa to create stories for short films upon foot of water, it became clear that
on HIV/AIDS. Winning ideas are then if she wanted to become a Peace Corps
turned into awareness-raising films by Volunteer, she would be departing
some of Africa’s best directors, which without seeing her home again.
help curb the spread of HIV and im-
prove the lives of those most directly
affected by the virus.
from the field Arriving at her staging with donated
supplies and clothing—all from friends
and those who had heard of her situa-
In Cape Verde, 235 young people tion—Pattison said she had to continue
submitted entries. Five of the nine VANUATU PANAMA with what she wanted to do. While she
regional winners came from Sao Do- An ingenious solution for Presidential visit knew most of her possessions had been
mingos, where Jacob had mobilized those without electricity destroyed and that she would probably
the youth entries. Overall, there were During his visit to Panama in Novem- never see them again, Pattison said the
20 national winners and one interna- The coral reefs in the Nguna-Pele ber, President George W. Bush praised bottom-line was, “it is just stuff.” Though
tional winner from Cape Verde, 13- Marine Protected Area of Vanuatu Peace Corps Volunteers for “working she initially had some concern about
year-old Pedro Tavares D. Vieira. The were dying. Pollution from disposed on the front lines of humanity.” whether she should leave, friends,
Scenarios from Africa films are dubbed batteries dumped in the sea were de- The President and First Lady Laura family, and Peace Corps staff, includ-
into numerous African and European stroying the marine habitat and killing Bush met with Volunteers and staff at ing Country Director Michael Wise (a
languages before they are distributed the fish that live there. a reception at the U.S. Embassy in Pan- Mississippi native), encouraged her, so
noncommercially to community-based But a project designed by Volun- ama City. Discussing the Volunteers’ she followed her convictions. She said
organizations and to television stations teer Chris Bartlett is harnessing the work— especially in HIV/AIDS activi- Peace Corps staff went out of their way
across Africa and beyond. power of solar energy to lessen the ties, which the President’s Emergency to make contact and ensure she did
island’s dependency on battery power Plan for AIDS Relief helps fund—the not have any additional stress placed
MolDoVA and to protect the nation’s coral reefs. President and First Lady reaffirmed upon her.
Internet access opens Through Bartlett’s help and those their support for the Peace Corps. Over the next two years, Pattison
possibilities for future of other Volunteers, the Recharge- Currently, 151 Volunteers serve in plans to keep in close contact with
able Battery and Reef Rehab Project Panama. her family as they reclaim their lives.
In Moldova, an innovative project provides rechargeable batteries and To commemorate President Bush’s She hopes that when she returns from
will soon connect the Cahul region to solar-powered battery chargers to visit, Volunteers presented him with a making a difference abroad, it will be to
important educational and business villages throughout the area. Villagers Peace Corps/Panama baseball cap. a proud, rebuilt city.
opportunities found on the Internet. can visit their local battery-charging
Organized by Volunteers Mark and outlet and recharge their batteries for
Chrissie Goldberg, the Connect Cahul a significantly lower cost than buying
project brings affordable internet ac- new batteries.
cess to more than 35 community cen- Electricity is not widely available
ters in the southern region of Moldova. to communities in Vanuatu, and many
The project raised money to purchase villages depend on battery power to
and ship 400 computers from the U.S. operate their everyday appliances.
to Moldova. Funding came from Peace Before the project began, villagers
Corps’ Partnership Program, the U.S. used as many as 12,000 batteries per
Embassy, and private donors. year. Discarded batteries often ended
Through the project, several Vol- up in the coral reefs, where chemicals
unteers helped set up Internet cafes seeped out and killed the reefs.
in their communities. These cafes will “My Peace Corps experience has
benefit schoolchildren and small busi- been a defining stage in my life as a
nesses. Young people interested in scientist, but most importantly, as a
job opportunities abroad can use the citizen of the world,” said Bartlett.
Internet to research their prospects The project was one of 12 finalists
and hopefully discover opportunities in the World Challenge competition,
that will prevent delinquent behavior. sponsored by BBC World and News-
Volunteers worked closely with week (both of which featured the
their Moldovan counterparts and with project), in association with Shell. The
the local and national government to World Challenge competition aims to
complete the project. The last ship- find individuals or groups from around
ment of computers is on its way to the world who have shown enterprise
Moldova, and soon, all the Internet and innovation at a grass roots level to President and Mrs. Bush recently visited Volunteers in Panama, where President
cafes will be up and running. help protect the earth. Bush praised the work of Volunteers in that country and across the globe.
What’s the Difference? Sure, in our global society, it seems like American influence can be found almost anywhere.
Yet, there will always be products indigenous to your host country that have staying power.
Let us know, in a few paragraphs or in pictures, products or items that cannot be found in
the United States—be it local delicacies or traditions. Our address is on the back page. We’ ll
feature some of your entries in an upcoming issue.
was chosen so people wouldn’t congregate
around the camera and the setting could
stay as natural as possible. Filming usu-
ally requires a few hours with plenty of
takes and retakes. Often, several retakes
are necessary for the Volunteer to rework
the question asked off camera into an
answer. (This is necessary because the
interviewer will not appear in the final
product.) Sometimes, the distractions—
Guatemala copes with from background noises to unpredict-
Hurricane Stan able passersby—prevent a great response
Peace Corps Volunteers have from even being useable. And while most
rapidly responded to the devastation Volunteers do not mind signing a release
in Guatemala caused by mudslides Kerry Robarge walks through a community devastated by Hurricane Katrina. form, having all the local participants
related to Hurricane Stan. understand and agree to the terms can
Following the hurricane, many
Volunteers began reconstruction ef-
Crisis Corps’ domestic response opens be a time-consuming challenge, even
when someone on staff has translated the
forts by working with disaster relief a new chapter in Peace Corps history release into the local language.
off icials on damage assessment, The logistical challenges faced by
assisting with relief operations, vol- By Scott Martin, Katrina CCV ent came in and was telling me where the camera crew and the “on-air talent”
unteering at temporary shelters, and This year marks the first time in their two story 1800’s home—in her are one hurdle, but there are additional
helping families repair homes. the history of Peace Corps and Crisis family for generations—once stood. drawbacks to this “fame” for the featured
For example, Volunteer Eric Black Corps that we are working within the Now, it is only a concrete slab. The Volunteers. Volunteers work very hard to
was working on GPS/GIS satellite borders of the U.S. house had been washed somewhere integrate into their host communities.
navigation mapping projects before FEMA asked Crisis Corps for Vol- out to sea, taking all her personal When a camera crew shows up to film an
the hurricane. When the disaster unteers to help out in the enormous belongings with it. interview or follow the Volunteer around,
struck, his maps were immediately catastrophe effort that was left in Crisis Corps is one of the op- that Volunteer immediately becomes a
put into action. Rescue helicopters the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the tions that returned Volunteers have curiosity all over again. This notoriety
used Black’s GPS system to deliver worst natural disaster in recorded when they return to their lives in the can counter a Volunteer’s efforts to blend
food and supplies to remote areas U.S. history. USA—and deal with reverse culture in. “Trust me, they will remember me the
that were without aid for days. Black’s The devastation here in coastal shock. next time I come back,” said Volunteer
written report—which included a Mississippi is hard to describe. They For me and many returned Vol- Nicole Zdrojewski of Bel Air, Md.
detailed map and specific requests say that the hurricane that came unteers, this is the biggest problem I But for all the Volunteers who par-
for resources—was recognized as an through here was a “class 5,” wreak- have dealt with here in the U.S. After ticipate in these projects, the sense of
important document to help in the ing havoc and leaving almost nothing being overseas, working as a Volun- knowing they have helped explain the
relief efforts and was applauded by standing on beachfront property. teer in a foreign country, I returned Peace Corps experience long overshadows
Guatemalan President Oscar Berger. From what I have seen, it may be in and all my friends seemed to be differ- a hard day’s work.
the billions of dollars for reconstruc- ent people than what I was expecting.
30 year high tion costs. They had changed, and inadvertently, PArTING sHoT
The agency has reached a 30-year My job at the Disaster Recovery I had too. A brochure from Ukraine titled
high in the number of Volunteers in Center is accessing the FEMA files for If anyone needs help going through “Being young is great” explains the
the field. The official count includes the clients (victims) that come in. One reverse culture shock, I recommend advantages of avoiding STDs.
7,810 Volunteers serving in 75 coun- day I dealt with clients all day, ranging working in a volunteer status either
tries. in time from 15 minutes to 2 hours. in Crisis Corps, or somewhere else
Ninety-six percent of Volunteers All of them came to me in tears or in a voluntary capacity—giving time
have at least a bachelor’s degree, with broke into tears sometime during the and efforts for the greater good of
13 percent having a master’s degree or conversation. As an example, one cli- mankind.
higher. Women comprise 58 percent
of all Volunteers. Seniors aged 50 and
over represent 6 percent of Volunteers, l i f e a f t e r t h e p e a c e c o r p s
with the average age of a Volunteer
being 28 years.
Donations on the rise
Donations to the Peace Corps’
Partnership Program for Volunteer It’s never too early to think about overview of the field and extensive Peace Corps
sponsored projects continued to pour the future, and you would be sur- lists of leading organizations and their
in this past fiscal year, as over $1.25 prised at the resources available in contact information.
million helped build everything from country to help you decide on that Volunteers bound for graduate A publication for Peace Corps
Volunteers serving worldwide
community resource centers to aq- next step. school should take advantage of the
ueducts. And this fiscal year, which Many posts have a resource center, career assessment tests to determine Barbara Daly Press Director
began in October, is off to a great start and in it you’ll find information on which field is appropriate for their
with over $318,000 already being graduate programs, resume writing, skills and browse the Graduate School Nathan Arnold Editor
Amber Fox Writer
raised. To learn more about how your and job options. Still deciding which Guide with information on Peace Anjali Aiyappa Writer
community’s project can qualify, visit field is best for you? The Career Infor- Corps’ Fellows/USA program and
www.peacecorps.gov/contribute. mation Consultants manual lists 600 leading graduate programs. Do you have something
professionals who are willing to meet While still in the field, Volunteers
Bird flu update to share with us?
with returned or current Volunteers. can visit www.peacecorps.gov/index.
The agency’s highest priority is In addition, the Peace Corps cfm/rpcv for complete information We welcome all Volunteer
the safety and security of all Volun- publishes five manuals on teaching, on career resources and job listings submissions or suggestions.
teers, so rest assured that should an business, agriculture, environment, through the Peace Corps’ Hotline e- Inquiries may be made to:
outbreak of the avian flu occur, the and international fields, offering an newsletter. Peace Corps Times
Peace Corps has contingency plans c/o Press Office
in place. Peace Corps will continue to The staff who compile these resource manuals value your input. So, if you have 1111 20th St NW
Washington DC 20526
work with other government agencies a suggestion or comment, drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Returned Vol- or
to ensure the agency has the resources unteer Services staff would enjoy hearing the best way to get you information. email@example.com
necessary in an emergency situation.