February 17, 2003 - Sea Monkey: Philippines RPCVs John McGown and Sonja Raub bicycle from Thailand to Poland interviewing PCVs along the way

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: 02 February 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: February 17, 2003 - Sea Monkey: Philippines RPCVs John McGown and Sonja Raub bicycle from Thailand to Poland interviewing PCVs along the way

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 7:22 pm: Edit Post

Philippines RPCVs John McGown and Sonja Raub bicycle from Thailand to Poland interviewing PCVs along the way

Read and comment on this story from Sea Monkey on Philippines RPCVs John McGown and Sonja Raub bicyle who bicycled from Thailand to Poland interviewing PCVs along the way at:

Eurasian Odyssey*

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Eurasian Odyssey

Bicycling from Thailand to Poland


The Event

Since 1961, more than 125,000 U.S. citizens have served as Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) in over 110 countries throughout the world. For the first time in Peace Corps' 35 year history, PCVs are working in contiguous countries from the Peoples Republic of China to Poland. In celebrating this historic event, returning PCVs John McGown and Sonja Raub will bridge the expanse of Eurasia on their mountain bikes to produce a comprehensive photo documentary in 14 countries highlighting the every day challenges facing volunteers and the communities in which they serve.

The Goals

* To interview Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) at their sites along our route, sharing their daily activities and relating their experiences through a photo-documentary which will be presented to the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C., and to educational institutions and interested groups;

* To complete a challenging, 15,000-kilometer journey across some of the most remote, highest, and most beautiful territory on earth;

* To produce a quarterly newsletter for your information;

* To promote better understanding by Americans of people living in distant lands;

* To encourage biking as a feasible, economical, and environmentally sound form of transportation.

The Route

Starting in Bangkok, Thailand, Sonja and John will cross through Laos and Vietnam to Chengdu, China along the old southern silk route. Leaving Chengdu, they will climb the southern edge of the Chang Tang Plateau to Lhasa, pass through the Himalayas into Nepal and Kashmir, and arrive in Pakistan. From Islamabad the two will pedal to Kashi, over the highest public road in the world, the Karakorum Highway. They will then push through the former Soviet Republics of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, all recently established PC posts. Once through Armenia and Turkey, McGown and Raub will complete the final leg of the Odyssey by riding through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Czech and Slovak Republics, and finishing the ride in Warsaw, Poland.

View the Table of Contents for Trip Updates, Newsletter Excerpts, and a Photo Gallery.

The Eurasian Odyssey is not officially recognized by the Peace Corps.


Trip Manager: Susi Raub

Master Mechanic/Wheel Builder: Kurt Volger

Web Page Coordinator: Chuck Soper

Copyright 1996-2003 Sonja Raub and John McGown

All Rights Reserved

About the Riders
John McGown and Sonja Raub are returning Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) from two and a half years of service in Catanduanes, the Philippines where they worked as water sanitation and coastal resource management technicians respectively.

McGown, from Fort Worth, Texas, has a MA in International Affairs from George Washington University and Bachelors in French and History from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has been actively involved with groups promoting bicycling such as "Bikes Not Bombs" in Washington D.C. As an avid cyclist, sailor, and seasoned traveler he has already toured on four continents.

Raub, a native of San Francisco, California, holds a Bachelors in German and Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley. She has had extensive experience in wilderness travel and partaken in National Outdoor Leadership School and SOLO courses, as well as instructed and guided for Cal Adventures of UC Berkeley and Alpine Skills Institute in California. She has been actively mountain biking for four years and racing for two years. She has traveled extensively on three continents.

Volunteer Profiles: Thailand

While in Thailand, we were able to interview five PCVs and visit some of their sites. During our time with them we discussed their trials and tribulations, as well as their successes as PCVs. The video footage of the interviews and site visits will be compiled into a presentable documentary format. We want to say thanks again to Anne, Jim, Jennifer, Heidi, and Romina, for their gracious hospitality, and for sharing with us their time and experiences as fellow PCVs. Below is brief description of what the volunteers are working on. We wish them the best of success!

Anne, Phimai, Khorat; Agro-forestry. Anne has been in country for seven months and is assigned to the Lands Settlement Section under the Department of Public Welfare. She works with settlement villagers to help procure seeds and seedlings for a school garden and tree nursery. Anne is part-Thai and feels fortunate that she can serve in her country of heritage. Anne is looking for an IBM computer with Thai characters. Does anyone have any leads?

Jim, Bon Phai, Kohn Kaen; Population and Community Development Association (PDA), a non-government organization. Jim is just completing his two-year term as an engineer working for PDA. He played a key role in PDA's implementation of community-based irrigation systems and water tank construction, as well as translation of numerous technical reports from Thai into English. He plans to return to Thailand after a brief home visit to pursue his career in engineering.

Jennifer, Phon Phisai; Agro-forestry. Also assigned under the Department of Public Welfare, Jennifer is a third-year-extended, working on a fruit tree planting program with a coverage of fifty communities. Jennifer also serves as the non-resident chef at the Espresso Corner, where she helps out local entrepreneurs and Peace Corps advocates, Baby and Muay. After Peace Corps, Jennifer plans to enroll in the Masters program in Thai Studies at Chularongkorn University in Bangkok.

Heidi, Bun Khong Long; Water Engineer under the Department of Public Welfare. Not having many water projects to undertake, Heidi has engaged herself in designing a village waste incinerator to complement the community's newly established waste management project. In her spare time, she studies and practices Thai Chi.

Romina, Muang Nakorn Sri Thammorat (assigned in southern Thailand and visiting Heidi); Health Worker. Romina travels extensively around her province administering blood tests in an effort to detect and eliminate the mosquito-borne disease of philapsoriasis.

Volunteer Profiles: China

We reached Chengdu in time to interview four COSed (Closure of Service) teachers from China's first group of PCVs before they set off in pursuit of travel plans, grad school, and new careers. We congratulate them on jobs well done and wish them the best on their life journeys. Twenty-three new volunteers, comprising China's second group of PCVs, arrived with us in Chengdu, Sichuan. They are now partaking in a three-month-long training program which will prepare them to teach English to prospective English teachers at five designated rural universities around Sichuan Province. We especially thank the four COSed volunteers-Ken, Don, Katie, and Jason-for sharing their time and experiences with us. Don and Jason have stayed behind in Chengdu to help train the new teachers in teaching English and Chinese culture, respectively. We also wish to extend our warmest thanks to Director Bill Spiedel, the PC Medical Officer, Shey Jones, and the PC Office Staff in China for making our visit in Chengdu a success. We wish you all the best.

Volunteer Profiles: Nepal

In contrast to the PC China Program, Nepal's Program is large and well established. PC Nepal has a 34-year history and presently boasts 149 volunteers. Its varied programs include: Education, Community Health, Nurse Education, Water Sanitation, Water Engineering, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Urban Basic Services, Forestry, and Soil Conservation. PCVs in Nepal often live in remote areas a one- to three-day bus ride from Kathmandu and a good day's hike or more from the road. Fortunately, we arrived in Kathmandu during the Desain, the Hindi New Year celebration (it's 2052 this year), and were able to meet PCVs at the main office. Thanks again to Ed and Jill, two COSing PCVs, for giving interviews in Kathmandu. We will hold the rest of the Nepali PCV interviews at the PCV sites. They will be featured in our next newsletter. Thank you also to Director Donovan Russell, Mr. Tika Karki, advisor to the volunteers, Amod the God of Nepali PCV mail, and the rest of the Nepali PCV Staff. We wish you all the best.

Ed, Mechi, Illam; Water Engineer. Ed has been in Nepal for two years. He is presently working in Kathmandu on a gravity flow water systems handbook with UNICEF funding to streamline pipeline construction in Nepal. He plans on extending his PCV service for four months to finish this project.

Jill, Illam; Education. Jill's first year as a PCV was spent at her site as a teacher teaching English to grades 3, 4, 6, and 7. During her second year she organized and held teacher trainings in her district which were partially funded by a grant from Coca Cola. Now she is helping out with training for the newly arrived volunteers.

Both Jill and Ed are partaking in the Everest Marathon, a 26.2 mile run starting from Everest Base Camp at 18,000 feet down the mountain. We wish them both a successful run and the best of luck in the future.
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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Phillipines; Special Interests - Travel; Special Interests - Bicycles; COS - Thailand; COS - China; COS - Nepal; Special Interests - Photography



By Charles Millson on Sunday, June 15, 2003 - 7:22 pm: Edit Post

John and Sonja are an asset to the Peace Corps; they are also ambassadors for our nation in many nations. I'm proud of them and the bridges they built across cultural lines that promote peace and understanding between nations.

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