February 24, 2003: Headlines: Third Goal: Pasadena Star News: RPCVs share experiences at Pasadena church event

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RPCVs share experiences at Pasadena church event

RPCVs share experiences at Pasadena church event

Peace Corps marks 42nd year
Ex-volunteers share experiences at Pasadena church event
By Emanuel Parker
Staff Writer

PASADENA -- The Peace Corps turns 42 next month and the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church celebrated that fact on Sunday with its annual Peace Corps Sunday featuring displays by former Peace Corps volunteers.

On hand were volunteers who served in Bali, Honduras, Costa Rica, Senegal, Cameroon, India, Kenya, Namibia, Nepal, Bolivia and Niger, who shared their Peace Corps experiences with visitors to the church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd.

Ken Kramer, 42, of South Pasadena, was working with the homeless in San Francisco when he decided he wanted to go someplace where the poor didn't have the safety nets available here.

"I wanted to go someplace where being poor really meant you didn't have anything,' he said. "I wanted to experience that and see if I could help in a situation like that.'

When they told him he was going to Nepal, he was thrilled.

"It's the fifth poorest country on the planet. The average per capita income is about $200.'

As a youth development volunteer, Kramer taught Nepalese youths how to make a living in their country's meager economy. Women play a subservient role in Nepal and Kramer also worked to keep them in school. They also presented antidrug and HIV education programs to combat Nepal's massive drug and HIV problems.

The Nepalese, like many third- world citizens, "Feel that Americans are there to pour money into their economy,' Kramer said. "The thing I like about the Peace Corps is we didn't have any money to give, just ourselves.'

Natalie Berkowitz, 39, of Long Beach, served in Namibia in 1998-99 as a teacher trainer. The legacy of apartheid means that for Namibians education means memorization, not books. Berkowitz said she was working with teachers who had the equivalent of a fourth-grade American education.

But the children there were eager to learn, which is more than Berkowitz found when she returned and got a job as a substitute teacher in New York City.

"The classrooms in New York City were worse than the ones I encountered in the Peace Corps,' she said. "The Peace Corps did not prepare me for my own country. In many places we have a third-world country.'

Charles Lim, 24, formerly of South Pasadena, joined the Peace Corps and is awaiting word where in Eastern Europe he will be sent. He recently graduated from UC Berkeley, where he majored in business and English.

"I will be a business developer,' he said. "I want to get out of Los Angeles and Southern California for a while and just do something else.'

Drew Racine, 14, of Altadena, is inspired by his mother, who served in the Peace Corps in Senegal. He plans to major in political science and said after graduation the Peace Corps is one of his options.

"They always need that kind of thing (political scientists) in the Peace Corps. It's a possibility,' he said.

-- Emanuel Parker can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4475, or by e-mail at emanuel.parker@sgvn.com.

When this story was posted in October 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers
The Kerry campaign wants the RPCV vote. Read our interview with Dave Magnani, Massachusetts State Senator and Founder of "RPCVs for Kerry," and his answers to our questions about Kerry's plan to triple the size of the Peace Corps, should the next PC Director be an RPCV, and Safety and Security issues. Then read the "RPCVs for Kerry" statement of support and statements by Dr. Robert Pastor, Ambassador Parker Borg, and Paul Oostburg Sanz made at the "RPCVs for Kerry" Press Conference.

RPCV Carl Pope says the key to winning this election is not swaying undecided voters, but persuading those already willing to vote for your candidate to actually go to the polls.

Take our poll and tell us what you are doing to support your candidate.

Finally read our wrap-up of the eight RPCVs in Senate and House races around the country and where the candidates are in their races.

Director Gaddi Vasquez:  The PCOL Interview Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview
PCOL sits down for an extended interview with Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Read the entire interview from start to finish and we promise you will learn something about the Peace Corps you didn't know before.

Plus the debate continues over Safety and Security.
Schwarzenegger praises PC at Convention Schwarzenegger praises PC at Convention
Governor Schwarzenegger praised the Peace Corps at the Republican National Convention: "We're the America that sends out Peace Corps volunteers to teach village children." Schwarzenegger has previously acknowledged his debt to his father-in-law, Peace Corps Founding Director Sargent Shriver, for teaching him "the joy of public service" and Arnold is encouraging volunteerism by creating California Service Corps and tapping his wife, Maria Shriver, to lead it. Leave your comments and who can come up with the best Current Events Funny?
 Peace Corps: One of the Best Faces of America Peace Corps: One of the Best Faces of America
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and can you come up with a Political Funny?

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: Pasadena Star News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Third Goal



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