2006.08.24: August 24, 2006: Headlines: Presidents - Kennedy: Cross Cultural Issues: Sudbury Town Crier: The Peace Corps experience is a chance "to see yourself through other people’s eyes"

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Cross Cultural Issues: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Cross Cultural Issues : 2006.08.24: August 24, 2006: Headlines: Presidents - Kennedy: Cross Cultural Issues: Sudbury Town Crier: The Peace Corps experience is a chance "to see yourself through other people’s eyes"

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-251-54-81.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - on Friday, September 01, 2006 - 8:56 am: Edit Post

The Peace Corps experience is a chance "to see yourself through other people’s eyes"

The Peace Corps experience is a chance to see yourself through other people’s eyes

In a speech at the University of Michigan in 1960, the Massachusetts senator challenged young people to dedicate two years of their lives to a service program that would help other people and promote world peace. "Kennedy recognized that if it was just a two-month stint it wouldn’t have the same value to the volunteer or the country," said Garvin. "What the Peace Corps still does is it allows nationals in countries around the world to get to know an individual and see the best of America, someone who is willing to give two years of their life to make a difference. That is extremely powerful."

The Peace Corps experience is a chance "to see yourself through other people’s eyes"

Their time with the Corps

By Carole LaMond/ Staff Writer

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It’s been 14 years since Tim Garvin returned from his service in the Peace Corps, but the experience is still so vivid, and has influenced his life so directly, that it often comes up in conversation.

He frequently discovers he is talking with someone who is a member of the same "amazing fraternity."

"There will be an immediate recognition, and a huge smile," said Garvin who was posted to Jamaica in 1991-92. "You share this bond even if you were in the Peace Corps at different decades in your lives, different years or different countries."

More than 182,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in 138 host countries since President John F. Kennedy established the service organization on March 1, 1961 to promote international understanding and provide aid to the developing countries of the world.

In a speech at the University of Michigan in 1960, the Massachusetts senator challenged young people to dedicate two years of their lives to a service program that would help other people and promote world peace.

"Kennedy recognized that if it was just a two-month stint it wouldn’t have the same value to the volunteer or the country," said Garvin. "What the Peace Corps still does is it allows nationals in countries around the world to get to know an individual and see the best of America, someone who is willing to give two years of their life to make a difference. That is extremely powerful."

There are at least 25 returned Peace Corps volunteers who live or work in Sudbury, said Garvin, who organized a local reunion of about 20 veterans of the program in March to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Peace Corps.

A helping hand

The Peace Corps was an idea, said Richard Landrigan, a volunteer in the early years of the program, that appealed both to his youthful "wanderlust and wanting to help other people."

"I grew up in a Kennedy-worshipping family in Boston," said Landrigan. "Kennedy formed the Peace Corps as one of his campaign ideas and I think I decided right then that I wanted to join."

In 1966, six days after he graduated from Boston College, Landrigan left for a two-year posting in Chile.

"We were very idealistic at that time, and I think the late ’60s was when the Peace Corps was at its biggest and most active," said Cynthia Nihart Nelissen who spent three years in the Ivory Coast in 1968-71. "It is by far the hardest job I ever had, and the most rewarding."

The experience is a chance said Nelissen, "to see yourself through other people’s eyes." The Peace Corps years were so life-changing that she looks at things differently to this day.

"Your brain changes, in a sense, when you become part of another culture," said Landrigan who helped set up credit union and agricultural cooperatives in Chile and taught English in a boys’ school at an old mission site in the mountains west of Osorno in southern Chile.

Meaningful relationships

The three goals of the Peace Corps are to train people in the host countries in a skill, to foster a better understanding of Americans by the host people and to promote that same understanding of the host country by educating people in this country about other cultures.

"I ended up loving it, not because of the work, but because the work led to relationships," said Garvin. "When you build friendships you end up talking about things that you disagree on, but in a positive way so you end up learning from each other."

Garvin, who is the director of the United Way in Worcester, said that he also received some business counsel from the Boys and Girls Club Director in Montego Bay, Jamaica that he still uses in his job today.

"When I first got there I asked some hotshot MBA questions about their budget and their long-term financial plans, not to be pompous, but to get ideas on what was needed," said Garvin. "The director put his arm around me and said, ’When we have money we spend it. When we don’t have money we don’t spend it. That’s our budget.’"

Garvin was 33, and his wife Theresa, 30, when they joined the Peace Corps in 1991. Both worked in helping professions at the time, Tim at a YMCA and Theresa as a social worker.

"The idea came up when we participated in a weekend for engaged couples, and we both said that we wanted to have a significant international experience before having children. A friend suggested we look in to the Peace Corps," said Garvin. "We literally went in on our first wedding anniversary, not by design, but we thought that was an omen that the experience would be wonderful. It absolutely was."

Meaningful work

Kieran Joshi, now a 7th grade math teacher at Ephraim Curtis Middle School, enjoyed her posting to Gabon in 1994-96 so much that she immediately signed on for another two-year.

Joshi began to understand some of her own cultural heritage during her second posting, to Nepal in 1996-98.

"My father is Indian so it gave me a chance to experience a culture similar to his," said Joshi. "When my father visited me in Nepal we also visited India and he was so excited to hear me speak Hindi."

Joshi taught math and English and also trained teachers during her years of service, but she felt that most of the things she gave were outside her job in the form of changing cultural stereotypes and in practical aid, such as helping a family build a wood-burning stove.

Carol Kamm served in Ghana from 1982 to 1984 and while it was "a great cross-cultural experience for me, and I think for the people I lived with," she still finds it hard to adjust to the fact that she made such a small difference in imparting practical skills.

Sometimes Kamm found that deeply-ingrained superstitions and cultural practices made it difficult to cross cultural barriers because there was no common frame of reference for people who had spent a lifetime in the same small village and an American.

Kamm’s task was to set up women’s groups in a small village.

"I came back with the feeling that I took more than I gave. I have a feeling of gratitude at being immersed in a culture and experiencing another way of life," said Kamm. "It’s hard to measure what I affect I had on them. I keep wondering what they took away."

The simple things

"Ghana was a hardship post at the time. The country had just gone through a drought and food was quite scarce," said Kamm who shared a house with a Ghanian woman and her children in a small village. "People in the village spent most of their time trying to meet their basic needs."

Kamm spent a lot of time growing her own food, and halfway through the first year the Peace Corps started delivering food supplies for the volunteers in the area.

Every three months Kamm would ride a broken-down bike to get supplies. Her small ration of tea and sugar became a luxury.

"I had to use it sparingly and just having a cup of tea would release the tensions and make me happy. I realized you don’t need all of the trappings," said Kamm who also appreciated having enough water to bathe under the stars. "I’ll always look back on how those two things could improve my state of mind, and that those simple moments can fill you with such peace."

All of the Peace Corps volunteers gained a new perspective that has affected every aspect of their lives from how they interact with people, to the ways they volunteer their time, earn a living to what they consider luxuries rather than necessities.

"The people were able to live their lives basically with nothing, and yet they had everything," said Nelissen. "It really reinforced the things about people that are the same, and the simple things in life. You recognize the basic things you really need."

When this story was posted in August 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance Date: August 19 2006 No: 964 Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance
The purpose of Peace Corps' screening and medical clearance process is to ensure safe accommodation for applicants and minimize undue risk exposure for volunteers to allow PCVS to complete their service without compromising their entry health status. To further these goals, PCOL has obtained a copy of the Peace Corps Screening Guidelines Manual through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and has posted it in the "Peace Corps Library." Applicants and Medical Professionals (especially those who have already served as volunteers) are urged to review the guidelines and leave their comments and suggestions. Then read the story of one RPCV's journey through medical screening and his suggestions for changes to the process.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

The Peace Corps Library Date: July 11 2006 No: 923 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory or leave a message on our Bulletin Board. New: Sign up to receive our free Monthly Magazine by email, research the History of the Peace Corps, or sign up for a daily news summary of Peace Corps stories. FAQ: Visit our FAQ for more information about PCOL.

Gates charity races to spend billions Date: August 12 2006 No: 954 Gates charity races to spend billions
Warren E. Buffett’s gift of $31 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation means that for tax reasons, starting in 2009, the foundation must distribute $3 billion annually, or a little more than twice what it distributed last year.

PCOL Comment: The Foundation says that "preventing the spread of HIV is the most durable long-term solution to the AIDS epidemic, and a top priority for the foundation." Peace Corps Volunteers and Returned Volunteers have been doing just that in AIDS Education for the past 15 years. Why not consider a $100M annual contribution to the Peace Corps to put 2,500 additional volunteers in the field to expand AIDS education worldwide?

RPCV Ron Tschetter to head Peace Corps Date: July 29 2006 No: 937 RPCV Ron Tschetter to head Peace Corps
President Bush has nominated Ron Tschetter to serve as Director of the Peace Corps. Tschetter, 64, is the president of an investment firm based in Montana. He volunteered with his wife to work as family planning advisers in India and is a former Chairman of the National Peace Corps Association.

PCOL Comment: Congratulations to the Bush administration for an inspired choice for Peace Corps Director. Ron Tschetter is not only an RPCV but was Chairman of the NPCA. Best wishes to Mr. Tschetter on his future tenure as Director of the Peace Corps.

Latest: How Ron Tschetter was selected as Peace Corps Director.

The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again Date: July 31 2006 No: 947 The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again
The LA Times says that "the Peace Corps is booming again and "It's hard to know exactly what's behind the resurgence." PCOL Comment: Since the founding of the Peace Corps 45 years ago, Americans have answered Kennedy's call: "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." Over 182,000 have served. Another 200,000 have applied and been unable to serve because of lack of Congressional funding. The Peace Corps has never gone out of fashion. It's Congress that hasn't been keeping pace.

Support the US-Peruvian Trade Pact Date: July 20 2006 No: 930 Support the US-Peruvian Trade Pact
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, the Peace Corps President, has been lobbying both Democratic and Republican legislators to support the US-Peruvian trade pact before July 28, when his term ends and a US congressional recess begins. If President Bush fails to get approval before Congress goes on recess, it will be a case study proving that the United States does not reward its friends. Please call your representatives.

July 20, 2006: This Week's Top Stories Date: July 20 2006 No: 925 July 20, 2006: This Week's Top Stories
Friedman win could create new coalition 14 July
Bellamy writes: G8 summit lacks results 19 July
Peace Corps Fund Raiser in NYC on July 25 19 July
Hodding Carter writes "Flushed" on plumbing 18 July
Doyle places Peace Corps ad 18 July
Matt Taylor releases CD "Subject to the Wind" 16 July
Matthew Orosz builds reflective parabolic troughs 14 July
RPCVs run organic HERB FARMacy 13 July
Jerome Miliszkiewicz discusses Chavez in Venezuela 12 July
Ric Haas founded the Fistula Foundation 11 July
Susan Deller Ross helps women's equal rights 11 July
Mark Maxam installs solar lighting in Kenya 11 July
Eunice Kennedy Shriver at White House for 85th 11 July
Hastings gives $1 million for charter schools 11 July
Alejandro Toledo meets Bush in final days 11 July
Hill is hopes to reconvene Korea talks 10 July
"My World" takes Tanzanian children to Kilimanjaro 9 July
Bob Watada supports his son in court-martial 8 July
James Brunton Jr. builds boat for Embera Indians 8 July
Tim Wilson sews the Seeds of Peace 8 July
Petri says Guantanamo prisoners should 'face accusers' 7 Jul
Tom Murphy cuts deal with feds 3 July

Changing the Face of Hunger Date: June 28 2006 No: 915 Changing the Face of Hunger
In his new book, Former Congressman Tony Hall (RPCV Thailand) says humanitarian aid is the most potent weapon the United States can deploy against terrorism. An evangelical Christian, he is a big believer in faith-based organizations in the fight against hunger. Members of Congress have recently recommended that Hall be appointed special envoy to Sudan to focus on ending the genocide in Darfur.

PC will not return to East Timor in 2006 Date: June 8 2006 No: 913 PC will not return to East Timor in 2006
Volunteers serving in East Timor have safely left the country as a result of the recent civil unrest and government instability. Latest: The Peace Corps has informed us that at this time, the Peace Corps has no plans to re-enter the country in 2006. The Peace Corps recently sent a letter offering eligible volunteers the opportunity to reinstate their service in another country.

Chris Dodd considers run for the White House Date: June 3 2006 No: 903 Chris Dodd considers run for the White House
Senator Chris Dodd plans to spend the next six to eight months raising money and reaching out to Democrats around the country to gauge his viability as a candidate. Just how far Dodd can go depends largely on his ability to reach Democrats looking for an alternative to Hillary Clinton. PCOL Comment: Dodd served as a Volunteer in the Dominican Republic and has been one of the strongest supporters of the Peace Corps in Congress.

The RPCV who wrote about Ben Hogan Date: June 6 2006 No: 912 The RPCV who wrote about Ben Hogan
Probably no RPCV has done more to further the Third Goal of the Peace Corps than John Coyne with the Peace Corps Writers web site and newsletter that he and Marian Haley Beil have produced since 1989. Now John returns to writing about his first love - golf in "The Caddie who knew Ben Hogan." Read an excerpt from his novel, an interview with the author and a schedule of his book readings in Maryland and DC this week.

Vasquez testifies before Senate Committee Date: June 3 2006 No: 905 Vasquez testifies before Senate Committee
Director Vasquez testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his nomination as the new Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture replacing Tony Hall. He has been the third longest serving Peace Corps Director after Loret Ruppe Miller and Sargent Shriver. PCOL Comment: Read our thanks to Director Vasquez for his service to the Peace Corps.

First Amendment Watch Date: May 4 2006 No: 883 First Amendment Watch
Maine Web Report hit with Federal Lawsuit
Website wins trademark suit against Jerry Falwell

Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request Date: April 12 2006 No: 869 Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request
The Ashland Daily Tidings reports that Peace Corps has blocked their request for information on the Volkart case. "After the Tidings requested information pertaining to why Volkart was denied the position — on March 2 — the newspaper received a letter from the Peace Corps FOIA officer stating the requested information was protected under an exemption of the act." The Dayton Daily News had similar problems with FOIA requests for their award winning series on Volunteer Safety and Security.

PCOL readership increases 100% Date: April 3 2006 No: 853 PCOL readership increases 100%
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.

RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps Date: February 3 2006 No: 780 RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps
Timothy Ronald Obert has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer. "The Peace Corps has a zero tolerance policy for misconduct that violates the law or standards of conduct established by the Peace Corps," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. Could inadequate screening have been partly to blame? Mr. Obert's resume, which he had submitted to the Peace Corps in support of his application to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, showed that he had repeatedly sought and obtained positions working with underprivileged children. Read what RPCVs have to say about this case.

Military Option sparks concerns Date: January 3 2006 No: 773 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read our poll results. Latest: Congress passed a bill on December 22 including language to remove Peace Corps from the National Call to Service (NCS) military recruitment program

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Sudbury Town Crier

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Presidents - Kennedy; Cross Cultural Issues


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.