February 10, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Andrea's Panama Peace Corps Web Site

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Panama: Peace Corps Panama : The Peace Corps in Panama: February 10, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Andrea's Panama Peace Corps Web Site

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, February 10, 2003 - 8:09 pm: Edit Post

Andrea's Panama Peace Corps Web Site

Peace Corps Online

Andrea's Panama Peace Corps Web Site

Andrea's Panama
Peace Corps Web Site

Here you will find information mostly about me and my experiences while I am serving in the Peace Corps in Panama. This site was launched in April '99, one month before I left the United States for a 27-month assignment in the Corps. I will be serving as a Small Business Development Volunteer. I built this web site for three main reasons:

* So family and friends can easily keep track of my adventure while I am away
* So future prospective volunteers could access some information about Panama, Central America, and the Peace Corps
* So the general population could learn more about what is involved with the Peace Corps experience

I was born in 1964. I live in the Big Apple (New York City) on the Upper West Side. I am a single with no children, and my most recent "real" job was as a Corporate Special Events Planner for the investment banking firm, Salomon Smith Barney. My mom and dad live in New Jersey, and my sister Meredith lives in the Bay Area, California.

Special Credit to Webmaster
This web site was created with the help of one of my best friends David Josephson, who owns a couple of businesses and knows just about everything there is to know about computers, web pages, graphic design, and the Internet. Visit some of David's sites:

b2excite.com where business unite. The webs most comprehensive business to business search engine. Find businesses in 40+ categories.

TripsAway.com. Full service Travel site. Book hotels and motels throughout the world, Cruises, Airline travel through all the carriers and consolidators, book your car rental. Visit our full line travel store.

Coming Soon:

TotallyFreeShops. Over 2,500 items all Totally Free. From Apparel to Electronics, to Toys and much more.

Thanks also, to my sister Meredith who helps update and maintain the site. Please send your comments and suggestions to her.

This site was last updated on Monday, February 10, 2003 .


These are the typical comments that I have heard for the last year from friends, family, casual acquaintances and co-workers, upon discussing the fact that I am leaving: "You are so lucky. Wow what an adventure! You must be so excited! Don't worry, you'll be fine...you're perfect for this! This is your lifetime dream. I wish I could do that...I just don't have the guts (the money, the time, can't leave my job, family, boyfriend, etc.) Panama is so close, it's like you're hardly going away. At least it's not Africa. I'll definitely write you (email you, visit you, send you stuff). You're soooo lucky. Don't worry...it's the 90's...you'll definitely have electricity and water. I had a friend who went to the Peace Corps and she had the best time!"

Thanks for all the encouraging words guys, but it still didn't stop me from compiling this list of fears. I thought it might be encouraging to other prospective volunteers to know that they are not alone, and that no fear is too crazy. To those of you who know me personally, say a prayer and let's have a good laugh when hopefully NONE (or very few) of these fears become reality.

* Getting really sick with malaria or something worse

* Getting really sick and not understanding what the doctors are telling me in Spanish

* Feeling like an infant because I can't understand anything

* Missing English

* Missing family and friends

* Wanting to come home, but knowing that I don't have an apartment or job

* Not having electricity or water. (Not very Peace Corpsish of me, right?)

* Forgetting to pack the most important things. How could I forget that?

* Getting really sick with rabies or something worse

* Having no privacy (since I will be living with a family)

* Not being anonymous (since villages are so small)

* Being ostracized because I am older than the average volunteer

* Everyone wondering why I am unmarried. Machismo issues

* Falling in love in Panama, and then having to leave

* Not falling in love!

* Falling in love WITH Panama, and then having to leave

* Time moving too slow

* Time moving too fast

* Y2K in a third-world country

* Not getting through training, and being sent home after only three months

* Not being able to sleep at night because of big ugly bugs and scary rodents

* Getting really sick with Yellow Fever or something worse

* Not losing weight

* Nobody visiting me or writing

* Not having a sense of humor in Spanish

* The tenant in my apartment breaking the lease before it is up

* Missing weddings and babies being born (Including my own!)

* People close to me dying

* Not being able to get a job when I return.

* Not knowing what kind of job I will possibly want when I return

* Getting too old to have a family

* Being deathly bored

* My laptop being stolen

* Having to cut my hair because it's too unmanageable in the humidity

* Not being able to suceed on my project!

* Not knowing what my projects will be!

* Being taller than everyone

* Gaining even more weight

* Missing Dawson's Creek

In addition to all the other requirements, applicants must complete two lengthy essays describing goals, practical experience, motivation, and expectations. I chose to combine my two essays into this one long epic poem. Hope you enjoy it!

by Andrea Aster

Don't know when it first started, perhaps I was a teen.
Didn't know when in my lifetime I'd find "time" for my dream.
Don't know why I was touched, but perhaps I just knew.
There was so much help needed, so much I could do.

Not just sit at home watching, sad shows on TV,
But get out there doing ! Now that was for me.
Yes, I'll join the Peace Corps! That's just what I'll do! 'll
They'll surely accept me, since volunteers are so few!

I went to the office, to get the application,
Two weeks (I figured...) I'd be at my location!
Until... the Peace Corps rep asked several questions of me:
Have you dug out a road? Raised a family of three?
Do you speak other languages? Do you have a degree?
Well, you haven't done much....you're only twenty!

I was sad and disheartened, but I knew what he meant.
I hadn't lived life yet, hadn't even paid rent!
I needed to do things, to prepare for the Corps.
I volunteered in the city, but I had to do more.

So I came up with a plan, to travel 3 months.
Had I returned at that time, I would not have learned much.
But by remaining abroad, for a full eighteen months,
I discovered the world, and I learned who I was.

Yes, I traveled the world, for that year and a half.
On a tight budget, shed some tears, had some laughs.
I learned many things, met great people too.
I learned to speak Greek...(at least enough to get through!)

I did many things while I was away,
Volunteered on two farms, I even bailed hay!
Picked cotton, milked cows, and cleaned chicken coops,
Swatted flies in a greenhouse, and worked well in groups.

Volunteered for three months in a city called Tzfat.
A short time to do much, but our group did a lot.
This location in Israel was an old ancient town,
When a strong earthquake hit it, everything had come down.

We rebuilt that city, with 1,000 bare hands,
We built it for immigrants, those from very far lands,
Those from Africa and Russia, expecting piles of stones,
Were moved beyond words, when moved into new homes.

I saw nineteen countries, and many cool sights,
Toured dozens of landmarks, took 10 different flights.
But no building I saw, impressed me as much,
As meeting new people, by that I was touched.

But when money ran out, it was time to return,
Yet I never forgot all the things I had learned.
Sure, I found a new job, but I still had my goal:
To join the "Peace Corps," wracked my mind, plagued my soul.

Then, to prove to the Corps, that to accept me was right,
I worked during the day, and went to school in the night.
I received my degree, in International Studies,
Learned customs and cultures, the Peace Corps would love me!

Those days all my money went toward education.
I didn't have cash for fancy vacations.
So, I volunteered my time off, people called me a fool!
But it was the best way to have fun while still paying for school!

The most fun vacation? A race in Alaska!
My assigned racer won! No one else could go faster!
Ten athletes in wheel-chairs, displaying concentration,
500 miles in 9 days! Now that's inspiration!

But those were vacations, they could not be compared,
To spending time in one country. Of that I'm not scared!
So I kept at my task! I would not be rejected!
I would continue to learn! My app would be accepted!

The idea that I could fail...now that made me nervous.
There was something more needed to raise demand for my service.
So I'm learning a language, good old espanol.
The final step (how I pray!), to achieving my goal.

Then, a funny thing happened about three months ago,
My company was merged, one thousand people: let go.
So I went to my boss and asked if I could stay on,
To the month of July, and then I would be gone.

Now...the job that I have is a great one, no doubt,
But the hours are crazy, and I wanted out!
If I'm going to stress and work 16 hour days,
Then at least I should be changing the world in some way.

I'll make lots of money just by staying till then, I
I'll settle my bills, fulfill all obligations.
So...the reason I asked my boss for this option, you see,
Was because it was right! NOW THERE'S TIME, FINALLY!

Yes, I'm a free agent (at least come July)
I can finally join you! I am here to apply!
I've thought this through well, and I don't have a doubt,
For me, the Peace Corps is what my life is about!

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: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Panama; PCVs in the Field - Panama


By AharonBotzer (bzq-82-80-146-90.red.bezeqint.net - on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 7:01 am: Edit Post

Hi Andrea!
This is Aharon, at Livnot! I came across this website, and saw you!

Livnot is presently coming up on its 25th anniversary, and we are attempting to reestablish a connection with our past chevre whom we have fallen out of contact with over the years.

So much has changed and developed at Livnot, and it would really please us if our chevre who were part of Livnot during the early years were connected to where Livnot is today.

For one thing, the traditional Livnot 3-month program has been widened to include programs of 2-weeks (for birthright Israel), 3 weeks, and 6 weeks. For a number of years, we stopped doing the 3-month program, as travel to Israel was at a low and few people were coming. However, this year, Livnot has joined with the Jewish Agency to offer a 5-month program (3 months at Livnot and 2 months of independent study/work) and registration for the upcoming September 2005 program is as high as we’ve ever seen!

You might not recognize the campus these days, but your program’s projects were added to, expanded, and strengthened, and today there are 9 dorm rooms in Tzfat, with a 2-story kitchen/dining room and Beit Midrash. The Jerusalem campus which runs Jerusalem’s only on-going volunteer program in addition to being a second campus for Livnot’s programs, has been open since 1995. All Livnot programs now divide their time between the two campuses.

As time has gone by, in addition to the rebuilding that Livnot has always been involved in throughout the Old City of Tzfat, Livnot is doing more volunteering and community service projects, such as renovating the homes of the elderly and impaired, working with Ethopian immigrants at the Tzfat Absorption Centers, and assisting in rebuilding projects for the Tzfat municipality. Tzfat is partnered with the Palm Beach Federation through Partnership 2000, and Livnot is a central figure in this relationship.

On a personal level, Miriam and I have recently welcomed our 7th grandchild into the clan – Ilanit, Eliezer and Yedidia are married. David is a naval commando, presently in the midst of his military service, and our younger daughters, Hodayah, Avital and Ateret are still in school.

This summer we are celebrating our anniversary with a big retreat in Pennsylvania from August 25-28. We’d love to see you there. Please visit our website at www.livnot.com for more information about the retreat, and to get a better idea of what Livnot is doing these days.

We would be pleased to be back in touch with you, and give you more details about our progress. Please send us your updated contact information to http://www.livnot.com/Pages/email_update.htm and PLEASE write and let me know what is happening in your life!


Aharon Botzer
Executive Director
Livnot U’Lehibanot

By Andrea Aster (dsl-201.224.105-pool-145.cwpanama.net - on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 10:19 pm: Edit Post

Can someone please remove the incorrect picture of a girl in front of the Panama Canal that appears with my text and application essay for the Peace Corps? Thanks!

By Andrea Aster (dsl-201.224.105-pool-145.cwpanama.net - on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 10:11 pm: Edit Post

this is my story and text, but this is not a picture of me. I don-t know who it is!

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-234-53.balt.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - 11:10 am: Edit Post


Best Regards,


By Rahel ( on Thursday, July 27, 2006 - 9:48 am: Edit Post

Hi, Andrea. I don't know whether you remember me -- we went to school together a long time ago, where you knew me as Robin. I got back in touch with a mutual friend a while back who told me that you were in the Peace Corps. And you did Livnot, too! Amazing.

I moved to Israel at the end of 1991 and now live in Jerusalem.

I wish you the best in all you do, and I'd love to hear from you.

By Andrea Aster (dsl-201.224.105-pool-145.cwpanama.net - on Wednesday, September 13, 2006 - 10:47 pm: Edit Post

Rahel: What was your last name when you were Robin, and where did we know each other from exactly? You can send me a private message to purplehousehostel@yahoo.com. My sister also lives in Israel with her husband and two kids, they live in Puriya.

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