July 3, 2002 - South Bend Tribune: Service projects offer reward

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, July 08, 2002 - 12:24 pm: Edit Post

Service projects offer reward

Read and comment on this op-ed piece from the South Bend Tribune by RPCV Lester H. Hayes who has served in Belize at:

Service projects offer rewards*

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Service projects offer rewards

Jul 3, 2002 - South Bend Tribune

Author(s): Lester H. Hayes

Lester H. Hayes, 76, of Marceline, Mo., wrote this piece to express his appreciation for the opportunity to serve as a development instructor for the Institute for International Cooperation and Development (IICD-Michigan). The facility is at 56968 Dailey Road, Dowagiac. -- Editor

"The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good is my religion," -- Thomas Paine

The decision to serve in the global, humanitarian projects of the Institute for International Cooperation and Development has its roots in the lifestyle and the events of my childhood, which spanned the years of the great Depression of the 1930s.

Neighbor helping neighbor sometimes meant, in those days, the difference between life and death. Such aid, often in the form of food and clothing, helped greatly to compensate for the unmerciful reduction in a family's economic situation.

Those childhood experiences, forever etched in my memory, have been the undeniable incentive for this world citizen's lifetime of service to others, service designed to lessen their burden of economic and social injustice. It led me, at age 37, to embark on a 25-year career in the U.S. labor movement, as a representative of three national unions.

The first volunteer service opportunity with the Institute for International Cooperation and Development, following retirement from labor union service, came in 1989. Having completed the first term of service with the U.S. Peace Corps the previous year, service with the IICD seemed the perfect road to take in pursuing the goal of a better world for all of humanity.

In discussing the various programs with the officials of the IICD facility in Massachusetts, I chose the travel/study program destined for Mexico and Central America in 1989-90, the third team to train for development work in that part of the world out of the IICD facility in Massachusetts. We worked on construction projects in both Mexico and Nicaragua for the International period of service, returning to the U.S. in early 1990.

Because of its success in global development work, the second IICD facility for training development instructors was inaugurated in Dowagiac in 1999. Recalling the rewarding experiences of serving on Team No. 3 in Mexico and Central America, prompted me to volunteer for Zambia Team No. 2 out of IICD-Michigan in April 2000.

In the intervening years following my participation in my first IICD program, I served a second stint in the Peace Corps in Belize, also briefly as a volunteer in AmeriCorps vista in Tucson, Ariz. During those years, I also taught English in an Adult language club in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

The Zambia Team No. 2 out of IICE-Michigan involved development instructor service as a teacher at a vocational school at Malambanyama, Central Province. The teaching at the school was in response to the need for vocational training to aid young people in starting their own business as well as the practical aspects of agriculture and business ventures.

The six-month international period of service in the Zambia program led to the follow-up period at the IICD-Michigan facility at Dowagiac. Program participants are provided the opportunity to advise future program participants, and equally important, the general public of the needs and aspirations of their fellow world citizens in the countries where the volunteers have served. In the general public meetings, development instructors relate first-hand accounts of how their service has made a difference in the lives of the people where they have served.

On a personal note, to see the expression of gratitude on the faces of the recipients of our service, especially the young, is sufficient reward, and it cancels out the occasional minor inconvenience on encounters in global development service.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Service; COS - Belize



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