May 15, 2002 - Federal Way Mirror: Mom's blue while son's away in Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Bolivia: Peace Corps Bolivia : Peace Corps in Bolivia: May 15, 2002 - Federal Way Mirror: Mom's blue while son's away in Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, May 17, 2002 - 7:39 pm: Edit Post

Mom's blue while son's away in Peace Corps

Read and comment on this story from the Federal Way Mirror on Nancy Vadrick and her son who is serving in the Peace Corps in Bolivia at:

Mom's blue while son's away*

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Mom's blue while son's away

By Pat Jenkins If there’s one thing Nancy Yadrick has learned in 30-plus years of motherhood, it’s that she can’t stop being a mother hen. Especially when one of her two sons is a continent away all the time.

Michael Yadrick Jr., who grew up in Federal Way and graduated from Decatur High School in 1995, is a natural resources volunteer for the Peace Corps in Bolivia. Mom wishes he wasn’t.

“I’m really proud of him, but it’s hard having him so far away. No matter how old kids get, they’re always your babies,” Yadrick said.

Mother’s Day tomorrow will make the geographical distance between them seem even farther. Thank goodness, Yadrick said, for e-mail messages and the photographs Michael sends her in the mail.

Nancy was born with health problems that made doctors think she’d never have children. She fooled them –– first with Michael’s brother, Scott, a school teacher in California, and then Michael 10 years later. They’re still her life, as she thinks all children are for their mothers.

“I would have had dozens of kids. I’m bonkers about them,” she said. “After my first one, i thought I wouldn’t be able to have more. What would I have done all these years without Michael?”

Before moving to Sumner after her sons were grown, Yadrick volunteered in Federal Way schools virtually “every day,” part of her commitment to her definition of a good mom, she said. “Producing and raising children to be contributing members of society is very important. My mom was dying of cancer when Michael was a baby. She told me that you never stop being a mother.”

Forgive Yadrick, then, if she misses Michael –– though she has herself to blame, in a way, for his willingness to give two years of his life to serving a tiny Bolivian village in South America.

“I had thought about joining the Peace Corps since high school. My mom always volunteered a lot in the schools and in the community, so I just grew up being a volunteer” in Planned Parenthood, Federal Way’s youth commission and the Civil Air Patrol, Michael said.

He recently completed 12 weeks of training in the city of Cochabamba, in the central Bolivian highlands of the Andes. He’s now assigned to a pueblo of about 1,000 people, called TinTin. Overgrazing by livestock and deforestation have created problems in the small valley with erosion and lack of fuelwood. There also isn’t enough rain.

The only North American there, he works with a Bolivian colleague and the community. The main project is the renovation and operation of a tree nursery that slipped into disrepair. Other projects include an irrigation system, educational activities at the school, beekeeping for making honey and pollinating plants, and reforestation of the pueblo and the surrounding hills.

Yadrick said the biggest challenge to living and working in TinTin is trying to learn Quechua, the indigenous language of the Andes highlands dating back to the Incas. He wants to be able to communicate with the locals.

“I could do my job and live without knowing the language, but they prefer to speak their native language and I feel I should learn in order to integrate,” he said.

Communication is tricky between Bolivia and here. Yadrick plans to chat on Mothers’ Day with his mom, never an easy connection because of language barriers.

“Calling him on the phone is difficult,” Nancy said. “Nobody there speaks English. When they answer the phone, i say ‘gringo’ and they go get him.”

The pueblo is about halfway between the cities of Cochabamba and Sucre. The year-round climate is similar to Northwest summers, “but with less rain,” Michael said. “It is the most beautiful place I have seen in Bolivia so far.”

Yadrick’s road to Bolivia went through Portland, Ore. After graduating from The Evergreen State College in 1999, he moved to Portland and served in AmeriCorps, a domestic version of Peace Corps. While there, he applied to Peace Corps. After more than a year of paperwork and meeting medical requirements, he was off to Bolivia.

“I had a lot of support from my family and friends. I would not be here without them,” he said.

Peace Corps prefers people with a high level of education and experience. He studied forest ecology and natural resources in college, has a science degree and was a volunteer in riparian restoration in Portland. “It all adds up,” he said.

Training for his Peace Corps work has included lessons from Bolivian professors on the local culture. He also has learned how to fend off insects and illnesses. And safety and security have been stressed; he said some added measures have been taken since the terrorist attacks on the U.S. last September.

Yadrick’s commitment to Peace Corps is through April 2004. After that, “who knows,” he said. “There are some cool programs starting up in Peru and Mexico, so I might extend. Don’t tell my mom.”

One more thing for her to worry about.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 925-5565 and

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