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By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, July 12, 2001 - 3:22 pm: Edit Post

Join the Peace Corps, go online

Join the Peace Corps, go online

Join the Peace Corps, go online

Web posted May. 01 at 12:15 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Peace Corps volunteers often live in rural dwellings without a phone or TV, but a big majority -- 72 percent -- now have easy access to a computer.

That's more than have running water in their generally humble living quarters -- 67 percent -- and about the same percentage as those with electricity, according to a survey filled out by three-fourths of the 6,700 overseas volunteers.

``The world is changing and the Peace Corps is changing with it,'' Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan said in an interview. But he acknowledged the results were surprising.

The survey, sent out last year and compiled this week, shows that in addition to widespread computer access, 60 percent of volunteers have easy access to a fax machine, 53 percent have e-mail and 38 percent use the Internet.

Despite that, two-thirds of volunteers still live in small towns, villages or rural areas or on outer islands and only 34 percent have a telephone and 32 percent a television. Volunteers receive a minimal living allowance and a readjustment allowance after they return from the normal two-year stint.

It's not yet on the new volunteer's list of recommended gear, but Patrick Gamman from Tillamook, Ore., took a solar-powered laptop computer with him to a remote village in the Philippines.

``He rides a horse to work. He lives in a former chicken coop on stilts. He has no electricity and no running water. But he's writing on a computer,'' said Gearan, who recently visited Gamman in his village.

Add a cell phone, and a volunteer can get access to the Internet.

``The potential for developing countries to literally leapfrog and gain all the benefits of information is enormous,'' said Gearan, who in just three years as Peace Corps director has seen a sea change in technology used by volunteers.

Volunteers who do not have their own computers often have access to Internet cafes, which are popping up in unexpected places across the Third World. They allow people to maintain e-mail accounts and even Web sites without actually owning any hardware.

Previous surveys, in 1993 and 1987, didn't ask about computer access. A survey in 1997 found 40 percent used computers in their workplace, but the new survey broadened the question and revealed nearly twice as many using computers at home, at work or elsewhere.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Special Interests - An Electronic Peace Corps



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