October 27, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Peace Corps By El Salvador RPCV Margarita

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By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-165-54.balt.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 3:29 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps By El Salvador RPCV Margarita

Peace Corps By El Salvador RPCV Margarita

Peace Corps By Margarita

I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, having served in El Salvador from 1994-1996. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in my life. It taught me self reliance and self confidence. It taught me to be more patient and tolerant of others. It taught me to appreciate other peoples' cultures and to embrace diversity. Qualities that have served me well in my professional life back here in the U.S. I still have many friends in my town in El Salvador where I served and have gone back to visit twice, with the hopes of making another visit in the next year.

While I can understand that people have bad experiences (I myself had a knife stuck in my face in Belize and was robbed. Thankfully my Peace Corps training taught me well and all they got away with was my wad of toilet paper.), and I do sympathize with them and their families, this is not the everyday life of a volunteer. Unfortunately Mr. Carollo's articles have failed to highlight the good things that Peace Corps does. I still have lasting reminders of my work (trees planted, organic farming practices used, increased dairy production which has led to plans to build a cheese factory, thus providing jobs for the community, my few English students who learned a little bit of English) and everytime I visit these things are pointed out to me. People really appreciate the work I did for them, even if it was just to visit and chat for awhile.

Peace Corps does alot to prepare people for the rigors of being a volunteer, including health and safety training. Volunteers generally spend 3 months training prior to being assigned a site. At no time are you pressured into continuing on if you do not feel comfortable. We had many people drop out in training after realizing that this just wasn't the right thing for them. We were never made to believe that going to El Salvador, especially so soon after the civil war had ended, was going to be easy. There were many moments in my first 6 months where I wanted to go home. Not for safety reasons but simply for reasons of trying to adjust to a new lifestyle. I am glad I stuck it out. It was well worth it.

I don't want people to think that safety of Peace Corps volunteers is not important, because it is. And there is always room for improvement. But I do not want people to read these articles and walk away thinking that Peace Corps is a terrible agency with no concern for its volunteers.

Peace Corps has three goals in its mission.

1) Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.

2) Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.

3) Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans.

I think it does a darn good job of achieving those goals.

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Story Source: Dayton Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Safety and Security of Volunteers; Investigative Journalism; COS - El Salvador



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