2008.03.05: March 5, 2008: Headlines: Local Groups: The Third Goal: University of Buffalo: The Returned Volunteer Panel from the Peace Corps was honored as part of Peace Corps Week at University of Buffalo

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The Returned Volunteer Panel from the Peace Corps was honored as part of Peace Corps Week at University of Buffalo

The Returned Volunteer Panel from the Peace Corps was honored  as part of Peace Corps Week at University of Buffalo

Its an experience that I would recommend for anyone and everyone because it really gave me a sense of how good we have it here in the states. He tells people who are interested in joining the corps that the first cut is the paperwork. You have to be persistent enough to fill out the forms. In addition to that, Ivas had to get his wisdom teeth removed and prove that a pesky critter that hes allergic to, a wasp, did not inhabit that region in Africa. Then there were the shots and an intensive 2-1/2 months of hands on training leading up to his departure. The training was held at a former Air Force base in Oklahoma, at which volunteers learned about fish culture and how to be self-reliant when it comes to finding things. The first day, the instructor told the students that he would meet them at the ponds at noon, but he didnt tell them where the ponds were so the students had to find them themselves. After returning to the classroom, he asked them questions they did not know the answer to, requiring them to walk a mile in 95 degree heat to get the answer. After two such treks, the students took notes to avoid another venture. Ivas said the instructor told his class that it was the only one up until that point that had found the ponds on the first day. It was probably the most intensive, but the best training Ive ever had, Ivas said. It was sort of like Marine training as well. We were given so much work. We had about three hours of sleep a night.

The Returned Volunteer Panel from the Peace Corps was honored as part of Peace Corps Week at University of Buffalo

University Peace Corps volunteers speak out on their experiences


The Returned Volunteer Panel from the Peace Corps was honored Tuesday as part of Peace Corps Week at UB. Five panelists met in the Capen Undergraduate Library and discussed their individual experiences during their service.

The Peace Corps was established in 1961 by Pres. John F. Kennedy to promote world peace and friendship, according to Peacecorps.gov. The mission of the organization is to have trained people help those in need, promote a better understanding of Americans and better understand other peoples internationally.

Tim Hartigan of UB's Center on Rehabilitation Synergy went to Thailand for his service in the Peace Corps during the time when George H.W. Bush was President. Hartigan was a high school teacher when he went to Thailand to teach English.

Diane Hardy, a UB International Student Adviser, had a different experience traveling to Romania during her time in the Peace Corps. Hardy worked in the environmental studies field collaborating on projects in middle schools dealing with environmental issues.

The director of international student and scholar services at UB Ellen Dussourd taught English to the French-speaking people of Cameroon in the Sahel in Africa. Dussourd said that the country is very different from the US because of the number of cattle and the lack of electricity.

"I did not find my town for the first six weeks," Dussourd said.

Michael Marrone, UB's associate vice president for development, served in the Peace Corps in Liberia as a rural water technician. His daily challenge was to find a way to make the drinking water safe by building wells and spring boxes with limited resources and no electricity. He formed a crew of people possessing different skills and educated the people of the town about safe drinking water and health.

"It took me about six months or so to realize you're not going to change the world here," Marone said.

Everyone on the panel not only had to adjust to some very different countries, but also had deal with language barriers.

"I didn't know a word of Romanian going to Romania, but you learn it pretty quick because you're forced to," Hardy said.

Dussourd said that Cameroon and Canada are the only two countries that are bilingual in English and French.

For Marrone, living in Liberia under military dictatorship was not a typical experience. He contracted malaria twice and had to talk his way out of going to jail with some soldiers when on assignment in Liberia.

"There were days my truck would break down in the middle of nowhere," Marrone said.

The panelists unanimously said the challenges are endless during service in the Peace Corps.

Small and Dussourd rode bicycles for transportation around the town. Dussourd said she did not feel safe riding at night because there were packs of stray dogs wandering around town.

Small said that race was a big challenge to overcome in her town because she was the only white person present.

Despite the hardships, many panelists said that their experience enhanced their lives and careers. Hardy said that after serving in the Peace Corps she knew she wanted to go into education and is now working toward her Ph.D. at UB.

"It's been a fantastic experience working with international students coming here (to UB)," she said.

Small also believes her experience in the Peace Corps has broadened her views of the world. She enjoyed learning through her students and her host family.

"I joined the Peace Corps because I always knew I wanted to, I loved learning about new cultures and traveling," Small said. "I've realized how complicated some issues are that I didn't realize before like HIV and AIDS."

Diana Cummings, a junior humanitarian major, has already has studied abroad and is getting more involved with the Peace Corps.

"It's something I want to do and I'm hoping it will cover my loans, I'm up for anything," Cummings said.

The Peace Corps entails an approximate two-year service with a living stipend, varying in dollar amount depending on the country in which you serve. Shannon Small, the area Peace Corps recruiter suggests that students apply to the Peace Corps a year before graduating because of the eight to nine month application process.

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