June 2, 2002 - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: PCV Shirley Allison works in Nepal

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PCV Shirley Allison works in Nepal





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Path leads to Peace Corps and chaos *

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Path leads to Peace Corps and chaos

Jun 2, 2002 - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Author(s): Laurel Walker

County Lines

Path leads to Peace Corps and chaos, poverty of Nepal

By LAUREL WALKER of the Journal Sentinel staff

Sunday, June 2, 2002

After 20 years as a nursing educator at Waukesha County Technical College, Shirley Allison was looking for a fork in the road.

Just over a year ago, she found it. The road led to Nepal.

From one of Wisconsin's wealthiest counties, the Delafield resident landed in one of the world's poorest countries. It is a largely Hindu country about the size of Arkansas, with about 25 million people. It is headed by a monarch but governed since 1990 by a democratically elected parliament.

She had a new purpose, making the kind of change that opens eyes and minds to the world we live in. Just the prescription for any American, Allison believes.

Ever since her freshman year in college, when she heard Peace Corps founding director Sargent Shriver talk on campus about the new global volunteer effort, she prepared herself to go.

But after college, a husband and children took her down a different path. Only in her mid-50s, after a divorce, after seeing her children grow to adulthood, and after the restless feeling set in on her 20-year teaching career, did she revive her dream.

Making a difference

But it is her work there that keeps her dream alive. One student at a time, she hopes to improve the health care in the country. Lately, she's been reviving the curriculum.

"I enjoy doing that. I find that it's really empowering to incorporate ideas that will help the country move forward."

She may not see the progress in her short stint in Nepal -- she's scheduled for one more year. But in the long run she hopes her efforts, and those of other Peace Corps volunteers, will make a difference.

At the same time, it's the kind of thing she wishes more Americans would do. The Peace Corps not only shows a generous side of America, but it opens volunteers' eyes on the world.

While America is held in awe on first blush, much of the world sees Americans as self-absorbed, entitled, decadent, living by their own rules, she said. She sees the communist uprising in Nepal and "I really have premonitions that are not good. The little people of the world are going to rise up. The have-nots have only one power, and that is anarchy. They have nothing to lose."

Allison returned to Waukesha County May 20 for a month's respite and a chance to take care of some medical appointments. She has no misgivings about returning in a couple of weeks for her final year of service.

She does, however, know what she's in for.

"This is a tough thing to do."

Call Laurel Walker at (262) 650-3183 or e-mail her at lwalker@onwis.com


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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; PCVs in the Field - Nepal; COS - Nepal; Nursing

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