April 18, 2002 - Elon University: Former peace corps volunteer Mike Tidwell visits Congo Kinshasa

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Congo - Kinshasa (Zaire): Peace Corps Congo Kinshasa : The Peace Corps in Congo - Kinshasa: April 18, 2002 - Elon University: Former peace corps volunteer Mike Tidwell visits Congo Kinshasa

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 10:50 am: Edit Post

Former peace corps volunteer Mike Tidwell visits Congo Kinshasa

Former peace corps volunteer Mike Tidwell visits Congo Kinshasa

Former peace corps volunteer visits

Crystal Allen - Focus Editor

Mike Tidwell, a former Peace Corps volunteer and journalist, visited Elon last Thursday as a part of the Footprints of Africa festival. Tidwell served in the former country of Zaire, which is now Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Tidwell spoke to two classes, Heidi Glaesel’s Geography of Africa and Wilamhenia Boyd’s African-American literature. Dr. Glaesel’s class read Tidwell’s first novel, "Ponds of Kalamybi," as a part of their studies. The book focused on Tidwell’s experience in the Congo.

"Being a Peace Corps volunteer was one of the proudest moments of my life," Tidwell said. He said he believes he has become a strong writer because of his experience. "After being a Peace Corps volunteer, I know that if I approached people with intellectual curiosity, they will bring you in," he said. Tidwell now writes travel pieces for National Geographic and The Washington Post.

Tidwell described his experience with the Peace Corps as "a real watershed period in my life."

Tidwell had malaria five times in two years, as well as several intestinal illnesses. But, even after having these diseases, he was much healthier than many people in Kalamybi, the village where he was stationed. He attended 200 funerals in two years; all died of curable diseases

Tidwell learned to appreciate the way of life of the people of Kalamybi. "I lived with a culture that was frozen in time," Tidwell said.

"The people there showed me a more humane way of living, where people count. I leaned how to slow down because mutual respect was a matter of survival."

The Peace Corps left the Congo in 1991, because of civil war and rising unrest. Tidwell kept in touch after he left in ’86, but has not received a letter back from his friends in 11 years.

Tidwell is actively informing people about the global warming phenomenon.

"In the last seven years, I’ve made it a habit; wherever I go, I ask people about the weather," he said. "Everyone says that it is getting hotter."

Tidwell said that human beings emit 6 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. That carbon dioxide warms the earth and makes temperatures rise. Carbon dioxide also stunts crop growth and one percent of Africa’s arable land disappears each year.

The United States has 4 percent of the world’s population, but contributes 25 percent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. This is already having an effect on many underdeveloped countries.

"We are killing the environment," he said. Tidwell urged students to cut back on energy use and to educate themselves about alternative forms of fuel.

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Story Source: Elon University

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Congo Kinshasa; Writers; Return to our Country of Service - Congo Kinshasa



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