January 25, 2003 - Go Erie: Returned Peace Corps workers share stories of Kazakhstan

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: 01 January 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: January 25, 2003 - Go Erie: Returned Peace Corps workers share stories of Kazakhstan

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, January 27, 2003 - 9:31 pm: Edit Post

Returned Peace Corps workers share stories of Kazakhstan





Caption: Aimee Eden and Ryan Morris return to the U.S.A. after peace corps service in Kazakhstan. (Janet B. Cambell)

Read and comment on this story from Go Erie on Kazakhstan RPCVs Aimee Eden and Ryan Morris who were on a Peace Corps assignment in Kazakhstan whose southern border is about 500 miles north of Afghanistan when the terrorist attacks on September 11. As they waited at their apartment after hearing the news and unsure of what to do next, they heard a knock at the door. "Four men came over to offer condolences, told us to feel safe," Morris said. "Some of our best friends developed out of that day."

This is not the first time we have remarked on the fact that in many cases the reaction to the events of September 11 in our Countries of Service was similar to the reaction 40 years ago upon the asassination of John F. Kennedy. Read the story at:


Ex-Peace Corps workers share stories of Kazakhstan*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.



Ex-Peace Corps workers share stories of Kazakhstan

By KARA RHODES

kara.rhodes@timesnews.com

What Aimee Eden and Ryan Morris remember most about Sept. 11, 2001, were the unexpected gestures from their neighbors.

The couple had already spent a year on a Peace Corps assignment in Kazakhstan whose southern border is about 500 miles north of Afghanistan when the terrorist attacks happened.

As they waited at their apartment after hearing the news and unsure of what to do next, they heard a knock at the door.

"Four men came over to offer condolences, told us to feel safe," Morris said. "Some of our best friends developed out of that day."

Eden and Morris, who are married, on Friday told fifth- and sixth-graders at Perry Elementary School about the couple's experiences in Kazakhstan.

After two years in the central Asian country, they returned to the United States in December. They are splitting time between Erie and Washington, D.C., while they look for jobs.

Eden, 31, grew up in Millcreek Township and graduated from McDowell High School. She left home for Ohio University, where she met Morris, who is from Athens, Ohio.

While in Kazakhstan, Morris, 32, taught at a school and built a greenhouse and community gardens. Eden opened a health resource center. The couple also created a library with English books and audiotapes.

They said they never thought of leaving after the attacks but were worried they wouldn't have a choice. The Peace Corps was evacuating volunteers from all other countries in central Asia.

But Kazakhstan, Peace Corps officials decided, was safe.

It was a decision Morris and Eden agreed with.

"There was two or three months of uneasiness, of going to work and trying to live life normally," Morris said. "But I was never afraid for our lives."

But they were afraid for their friends and family back in the United States. They have friends or family in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh.

"We couldn't just pick up a phone and call," Eden said. "We were getting only sporadic news. Then the anthrax scare started."

While they worried in Kazakhstan, their parents were also frantic.

"All we could tell them was to please be careful, to watch their backs," said Carleen Eden, Aimee Eden's mother. "We didn't know what was going on."

But time continued to pass, and nothing changed in Kazakhstan.

Morris finished his greenhouse, and Eden continued to educate Kazakhs about health issues. Both became knowledgeable in Russian, the working language of the former Soviet republic.

They lived in an apartment in a town of about 25,000 people called Atbasar. They had regular running water just a couple months out of the year. The rest of the time, it was redirected for irrigation purposes.

Most people used outhouses, and the average temperature during the winter was minus-30 degrees.

But women wore fashionable clothes, and soccer was a hot topic.

"It was like America for the most part but like America was back 30 or 40 years ago, or maybe when your grandparents were growing up," Morris told the students.

KARA RHODES can be reached at 870-1858 or by e-mail.

More about Peace Corps Volunteers in Kazakhstan



Read more about Peace Corps Volunteers in Kazakhstan at:



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