April 19, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Stephen Kransner's Online Peace Corps Journal of Ecuador

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ecuador: Peace Corps Ecuador : The Peace Corps in Ecuador: April 19, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Stephen Kransner's Online Peace Corps Journal of Ecuador

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, April 19, 2003 - 12:29 pm: Edit Post

Stephen Kransner's Online Peace Corps Journal of Ecuador

Stephen Kransner's Online Peace Corps Journal of Ecuador


"Dream as if you live forever, Live as if you die tomorrow!"

September 11, 2001 will be a day long remembered in American history with sadness, tragedy and anger. "American" is a word these days that has taken on new meaning to all those living, working, and having families and friends under the flag of red, white and blue. Under times of tragedy and despair we see, as we have in the past, our countries unity, patriotism and strength shine brighter and more intensly then days before. The attacks on our people and the people of the free and civilized world has done nothing more but to unite and make stronger our values and resolve.

We now move forward in the days and years ahead having a quiet yet sustained confidence that we will triumph and win the battle against terrorism wherever it may be.....

To all the victims in Washington DC and New York, we keep them in our prayers and thoughts. We mourn along side all those people personally touched by these acts of terror.

May God Bless America and all those nations whom yearn for peace.

-Stephen Louis Krasner- September 17, 2001

Wedding Announcement

(Click here to see newspaper announcement)

Who: Stephen Krasner (Me) & Lisa Korenman

When: November 8th, 2003

Where: New York City





So here I am a little less then 4 months before I depart for my Peace Corps service in Ecuador. This is my first entry in what I hope will be an extensive online journal of my accounts in the remaining time leading up to my departure as well as my time during my service.

I must admit the application process has been quite long and the waiting time definately makes a person extremely anxious, excited and the whole sha bang. Recently, and with the more I start preparing myself through reading other peoples accounts, and educating myself on the country of Ecuador, I find myself getting more and more excited to go!!!

To be honest though, and I'm sure it is similar with others in my shoes right now, many questions and concerns enter your mind the closer you get to your departure. Things such as, what will the other volunteers I'm with be like? How will training proceed once we are there? What will contact with friends and family at home be like? What will happen to my current dating situation once I leave? In what region of the country will I be assigned after training? Am I doing the right kinda things to prepare for this endevour? So many questions and uncertanies that it is overwhelming to think about all of them....but at the same time I gather its the normal thought of someone who will be leaving for the Peace Corps.

Anyway stay tuned as I'm sure I'll be putting a few more entries down here every now and then before I leave. Once I'm in Ecuador I will try to update this online journal as much as I possibly can and have access to do so........



Time is definately flying by as my departure for Ecuador hangs out there on the horizon!!! Being that the elections are tomorrow their is good news either way with which candidate wins!!!! If Gore wins , well, that would be fantastic and I will leave with the Peace Corps knowing the country is in safe, good and responsible hands. If Bush wins the election - well thank G-d I'm leaving the country for more than half of what would be his term in office!!!

My preparation for the Corps are getting underway. I got my backpack for the trip last week - the thing is almost as big as ME!!!! Good thing I have a very strong back. I seem to be getting a lot more excited for the endevour as time gets closer and closer. Any feelings of being nervous, a little scared, etc.... have taken a back seat to the feelings of excitement and anxiousness!!! I just wish I had a way to find out several of the other people going on this assignment so I could start corresponding with some of them!!!!



December is almost closing in and my departure date seems to be approaching rapidly!!! I recieved all my in depth country information packet and packing list a little over a week ago. Needless to say the arrival of that has gotten me more and more anxious to get underway. The good thing so far is I've been in contact with a few other people who are also going on my assignment as well as one volunteer who is currently serving in Ecuador. Puts the mind and all the questions and concerns at ease when you can at least contact people going through or experiencing what you are!!

Two and a half more months and I'm off!!!! Wow time is sure flying by here.........



Just under two months from today I will be underway and on my way to my Peace Corps Assignment in Ecuador. Its alomost mind boggling how fast the weeks are flying by and how nerve wracked one gets making sure that all preparations are being made in time for the departure. Several of my friends and family will be coming in for a sort of Bon Voyage type party February 10th, which is nice it'll give me a chance to say goodbye to everyone one last time!!!!

Surprisingly though I'm not as nervous as I thought I would be......... In fact it really hasn't hit me that much that I'm leaving. I think it'll really start to hit me sometime in mid-January when I realize how close the departure date is!!! My main focus now is tying up lose ends with my life here and coming to grips with leaving my friends, the girl I'm seeing, and my family. Who knows how living so far away and being gone for so long will effect all those types or relationships......so it has me trying to enjoy the last couple months with my good friends, and enjoy what may be the last couple close months of seeing the girl I'm with, and also a time to enjoy (well some of the time) the last bit of time I'll see my family for a while!!!

Seems like theirs alot to do and time is starting to sneak up on me........ But all the while I am getting a lot more excited and anxious to get started with things!!!!



I recieved my staging packet in the mail yesterday!!! The packet consist of details about the orientation period in Miami right before we leave!!! Its a breif one night in Miami then off on our 4 hour flight to Quito. We'll be arriving there around 9:30pm or so on the 21st of February. Wow time sure is flying by. To think I started applying and preparing almost a little less then a year ago......

My parents are sponsering a going away party type deal on February 10th which should be a nice send off from my friends and family. Funny how all this hasn't really hit me that hard yet!!!! It reminds me of the time leading up to when I left for Israel and the Middle East over a year ago...none of it hit me until I was on the actual plane leaving. I'm guessing this will all hit me that its all for real within the couple days before I leave!!!

Anyhow I'm done at work one week from tomorrow whic his very exciting!!!! I'll have no problems leaving the work I do in the law firm!!! The only positive to working here was the money situation worked out well!!! But besides that their really isn't to much to look forwrad to being a Legal Assistant and having to answer to Attorney's day in and day out!!! Not saying any of them were bad people, but lets face it working as a Legal Assistant limits ones self to doing a lot of tedious, meaningless, and unsatisfying work!!! Whereas the Peace Corps looks to be something much much more...........

Well the wait is almost over, and soon I'll be posting entries on this from down in Ecuador!!!



One week from today and I'm on my way to one heck of a journey here!! Funny how the same question seems to be repeating itself in my mind...."What the heck have I gotten myself into....?" In actuality though thats the same thought that has me extremely excited for what lies ahead.

To be honest I think my departure has really hit home with all those around me and well hasn't really hit me at all yet!! I've been so busy with preparations to leave, that the actual "leaving" part has been far from my mind!! However it has been getting rough to see people close to me get upset and sad at my leaving.

In any event it all is seaming sureal now, and the time has just flown by so quickly. The next entry I write in here will undoubtly be from within Ecuador.........



I made it, Im here in Ecuador!! Wow its been almost three weeks now and its all been moving so fast!!! The first few days we were here the whole trainee group stayed in Cumbaya, Ecuador just outside of Quito. After those few days we all were then divided up into two smaller groups, some going to a towns outside a bigger town called MIRA, while my group is centered around a town called GUAUPE. To break it down more 3-4 voluntters live in smaller towns that are kinda clustered around those two bigger areas. My town is called LITA and its in Northern Ecuador!! ITs a very nice town and I absolutely love my host family they are so very nice!!!! My Spanish level is improving daily, and Im learning and doing all sorts of Agricultural training which is interesting!!! All in all everything is going well, sometimes especially at nights when your alone is when you miss people, but its not so bad that one cant cope with it!!! My whole group of trainees I{m woth our cool and I{ve made several friends among the group!!! In any event Ecuador is a remarkable country with some of the most breathtaking views one can see anywhere in the world!!! I use email and phones on weekends during this three month training period in a city called Ibarra, about 2 hours from Lita!!!! I dont know where my permanent site will be yet, but we will find out in a few weeks!!!! Well Ill try to update this journal when I can and when there is time....mostly on Saturdays when I cand make it to the city!!!! Hasta Lluego



Hola!! Como esta todos? Yo estoy muy bien!! Un poco cansado, no malo!

Ok well we´re halfway through training now and wow has it been all over the place so far!!!!! I just thought I´d do a bit of a recap of the different little adventures thus far!!!!

Week 1 - Upon Day 4 of arriving in Ecuador I managed to slice my finger open and go to the emergency room in Quito to get 3 stitches!! Looking back on it one has to laugh!! Next time someone asks me to assist in opening a jammed rum bottle I think I´ll use a plastic knife!!!

Week 2 - Made my home in Lita, Ecuador for training with my way cool host family!!!! I also managed to have a misunderstanding with a community dog while walking back to my room from the shower.....I´m sure the dog enjoyed stealing my towell and using it as a chew toy!!!

Week 3 - Decided to scale a bridge across a ravanous river, the bridge was one log...or rather really big stick wide (photos have been sent to the states) - Of course I had to stand in the middle of this rope and stick bridge with my MACHETE to pose for a Kodak moment!! Also had my encounter with my first big snake.....good thing was it wasnt poisenous!

Week 4 - Had to hike around a HUGE MUDSLIDE that made the road to my training site unpassable..(photos were sent home of that too) There was like a small mountain in the road!! Not to mention the week before the indigenious people had a strike in the roads and wouldn´t let busses pass!!

Week 5 (this week) - This past wednesday we all went to Quito and watched Ecuador vs. Brazil in soccor!! It was way cool as Ecuador upset Brazil and won 1-0!!!!!!

Anyway that kinda raps up some of the more exciting recent news!!! We turned in our three choices, yesterday, of which sites in Ecuador we want to be in for our 2 years!! Turns out everyone in my Agriculture program picked like the same 5 spots between all of us!!! So basically none of us have a clue now as to where we will end up, but we all find out this Friday so I´ll have plenty of news to share in my e-mail next Saturday!!

Things are all in all going well, training remains to be quite challenging and can get frustrating and stressful at times!! However the positives from all this far outweigh the negatives!!!! Happy Passover - Easter to everyone!!! I´ll be in touch again soon!!!

Hasta Lluego!!!!

El Señor Krasner


Hola, Como estan?

Hi all well its definately been an up and down weak of training!! I gave my first presentation in Spanish in front of my trainers and some townspeople, and in any case I was being graded on it by the Peace Corps Staff. Everything was going great I had several diagrams on Poster Board, and Hands on Demonstration as well as all the spanish for the most part memorized!!! Anyhow I got nailed on it and have to redo it again next Thursday because I didnt have enough audience participation and didnt ask them if they had any questions for me!!! Needless to say I had the most frustrating, upsetting and dissapointing day I´ve had thus far in Peace Corps last Thursday. But the bright side of it is in the long run repeating it again can only help in improving my skills and experience in what I´m doing in the future....it just sucks i have another weak of stress to worry about doing it again!!

Now onto the cool news I got my site where I´ll be living for 2 years yesterday. Here are all my details about where I´ll be, what I´m doing etc................

Site Name (Town): Luz De America

Province: Pichincha

JOB DESCRIPTION: The PCV would work with the community in the promotion and marketing of products. He/she would need to teach administrative themes for small businesses and work in the industrialization of coffee and cacao. The community would like someone to help improve the traditional and non traditional crops and to work with women groups in small agriculture projects.

COUNTERPART AGENCY: The counterpart agency is the Asociacion Cacateros y mas Productos Tropicales - 7 de Abril. it is an agency that gives technical assistance to the local farmers in the area.

VOLUNTEER CHARACTERISTICS: The community needs a PCV who is very motivated and willing to work with men and women´s groups. The PCV needs to have some knowledge in agriculture and business, or business with a preference to what applies to agriculture.

SITE CHARACTERISTICS: The community is a middle size site in the coastal region. The people work mainly in Agriculture, business, and marketing. It is located about a 1/2 hour from Santo Domingo de los Colorades on the road to Quevedo, it is also 3 hours outside of Quito. It has a hot climate and tropical plants. It has electricity, water and telephone. There has never been a PCV working in the community although we did have a training group there last year.

So thats it sounds to me like a perfect location and site!! Santo Domingo which is a half hour away is a beautiful city with restaurants, stores, internet, banks, telep`hones hotels etc.. Not to mention Quito is 3 hours away. Anyhow I´ll write more when I can but just wanted to get the info out to everyone!!! Hasta Lluego!!!!!




Hola mi amigos y familia!! Como estan? Voy a viajar para sitio visitar en lunes!!! Es muy importante por miro mi nueva casa y comunidad.

Things are going well this week!! Actually its been an up and down week but heck thats been every week in training. Well were all set to go on our site visits on Monday. Itll be nice to get out and see some more of the country on our own for a bit, especially since this wil be our first times seeing where our new homes will be!!

Nothing to exciting this past week, same old spansih classes etc... I had a meeting yesterday with my two trainers where I was evaluated on all aspects of training. Some things were positive and then some things they said were not so positive. OF course being me I challenged every non positive thing they had to say....all in all it was a good meeting as I felt cleared up any misperceptions and we exchanged constructive criticism on both sides!!! So hopefully we set a new more positive pace for the rest of training. A lot of people in our group didnt agree with their evaluations from the trainers...Im starting to think its all kind of a test to see if your cut out to be a volunteer down here !!! In any regards Im just looking forward to getting training out of the way so I can get down to business at my site!!!

Oh I did hike up a mountain last wednesday near my village and came in contact with another snake friend!!! The guy I was with (12 year old kid) explained the snake was not poisonous so he cought it and I have a great photo of me holding it!! (:

Oh the tech demo I had to repeat , well I havent done it yet!! Im scheduled to do it again after my site visit on Monday April 30th, and then I have to give another one the very next day. So Ill be super stressed at that time but Im not going to worry about until after my site visit!!!!

In any regards thanks so much for everyone who has been sending email out here!!! Even though I dont have enough time to reply personally all the time its real nice to be able to read all the e-mails when i ever get to use a computer. So thanks again!!!!

Well I'm off to run some errands, I will be online again later this afternoon so feel free to email or catch me on Instant Messanger!!!! Hasta Luego!!!




Hola MI AMIGOS Y FAMILIA, I just got into Ibarra after an 8 hour trek in the bus systems of Ecuador!!! Anyway my site of Luz De America is way cool!!! I spent the past few days visiting several different groups and organizations. It was rather challenging to be totally alone for the first time for a week having to solely rely on my spanish skills to communicate. Anyhow here is the scoop!! I met with two womens groups, one of whom had a TV crew from Guayaquil visiting (CNN) filming a story on projects they were working on....and I just happened to be there and the crew was intrigued at my presence and interviewed me with a few simple questions.... So if your watching CNN look for a piece on Ecuador and you might possibly see me!!!! Anyway Ill be working with these womens groups on different projects such as assisting in marketing their products, helping them with organic farming methods and Ill be working to coordinate health classes in the community. Ill also be working with a couple agricultural groups...one of them needs assistence in finding new markets around South America and possibly the United States for Cacao (choclate) so they are relying heavily on me to make that happen.....God only knows how Im going to pull that off!!! I also met with the directors of both the grammer school and highschool and Ive agrees to teach two weekly ENGLISH classes in the evenings for adults and kids...needless to say that should be a whole different kinda challenge.

The town itself is reather nice...it is centered around a main road that goes from Santo Domingo to Guayaquil. Due to this there are a bunch of stores and restaurants open 24 hours 7 days a week right on the main road!!! There are about 3-4 thousand people living at the site...which is big by most site standards. Its a short 25-30 minute ride by bus up the road to Santo Domingo (busses pass by all the time). Santo Domingo is a nice large city with tons of restaurants, stores, banks, hotels, internet cafes.....etc.... Its got one of the LARGEST open air markets in Ecuador open all week!!! Its similar in a sense to the market area in the Old City of Jerusalem for those of you who are familiar with it!!!! The weather there is HOT - HUMID - and has quite a few mosquitoes as ive discovered the hard way!!! It tends to rain heavily almost every night , which is good as it cools things off!!! All in all its a great site where Im very excited to live for 2 years and get working!!!

Oh I found the house where Ill be living for 2 years.....I looked at like 4 or 5 different ones before I found the one I liked the best!!! Its got a pretty large kitchen, tiled bathroom, 2 bedrooms, and a big family room. The backyard opens out to a beautiful river!!! Its got running water, electricity..and i think maybe even a phone line!!!! So all in all its a great place to live!!!! The whole town knows my name and news traveled fast!!!! Its funny walkling down the street this week and having people I never met come up and introduce themselves....it took me 2 hours to walk 2 blocks because i was stopped and talked to by so many people!!!!

Thats about it for my site visit...Im sure Ill have more to tell after I start living there. Tomorrow (Ill be checking email again tomorrow...HINT) I head back to my host family in Lita where we will finish up training and then ALL head to Quito on May 12th. After 5-6 days in Quito we will go through the graduation process on May 17th and be sworn in as Volunteers...thats if I dont get kicked out of Peace Corps first...(kidding)!! Ill then be returning to my permanent site in Luz De America for my 2 year service.

OH and for all those wondering my mailing address here stays the same for now!!! Ill send out an email if it changes but Im close enough to Quito that i can pick up mail at the current address (found on my webpage) Also in case anyone would like Ill be in a hotel room for tonight with a phone.... to call its 011-593-6-644-918 (room number 6) Remember they dont speak english at the front desk so you would say... Yo hablo con dormitorio seis...or yo hablo con Stephen Krasner en dormitorio seis por favor.

Anyway I hope everyone is well...and Ill be in touch when I can. We have a stressfull next few days of getting a lot of work done etc.....so Ill be nice and stressed out for the next couple weeks...I cant wait till training is over.......!!!! Hope to hear from everyone soon!!!!! Hasta otra dia!!!!!


El Señor Krasner


Hello again to those of you who got my last email from an hour ago!! As you can see I was able to get back on internet for a bit!! Any things have gone well this week since my site visit last week!!! Right now I´m sitting in an internet cafe in OTAVALO. Just in case any of you were wondering (and I know of a couple people who have asked) there are tons of internet cafes all over Ecuador and its never really to hard to find one within range!!! We just had an awesome dinner at a restaurant here...I went for the shrimp pizza!!!! Anyhow after we got back from our site visit last Thursday we all found out we had a five day trip lasting from today until Sunday!! They divided us up into regions for the different trip....meaning all the people who will be living on the coast our going on a coastal site....and people living in the sierra and oriente will be going on similar trips!!! So tomorrow morning we´re leaving from here and actually stopping at my site (so part of the group will see where I´ll be living) for lunch then continuing on to QUEVEDO. After a day there we´ll be heading back to a rural town near my site and spending a night there...after that we´re in SANTO DOMINGO for a night and then it´s back to our training sites on Sunday!!! Then it´s only 6 more days with our host families after which we are all in Quito for 6 nights leading up to graduation at the US Embassy on the 17th. Then around the 18th or 19th we all head to our sites for our 2 year duration!! I´m so psyched to almost be done with training !! I did my two technical demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday which is a major requirement to pass training....and it was 5 straight days of stressing out but I NAILED both my tech demos with flying colors and passed!! The only other hurdle left is the final spanish compitency test...which is Monday after we get back from this trip!!!!

Thats about it for now!!! Everything is going well ...oh some exciting news...in my host site of Lita on Monday there were about 6 different helicoptors coming in and out of there...I took photos!! Apparently north of where we were they were and still are having some trouble with the Columbian Guerillas crossing...it was pretty exciting to watch everything go on!!!!

I hope everyone is well and just sent more mail out today!!! Take care and when I have time in the next week or two I´ll write back to all of you who´ve been emailing personal letters and stuff!! We are just so crunched for time the next two weeks before we are done with training!!!!

"Peace Corps Training is kinda like pledging a fraternity....it´s one of those things in life you only want to do once!"

-This was me describing Peace Corps to a friend in a letter last week...I thought it was a good quote to share!!

Hope all is well with everyone,




Hola mi amigos, Como estan? You estoy muy bien! Voy a viajor por Quito a las Domingo, despues para mi nuevo sitio en Luz de America. Vamos a visitar Quito por seis dias, por que es un reunion oficial por nuevo voluntarios con Cuerpo de Paz. Yo es mas o menos triste por que vivo con familia en Lita por un dia mas. Me gusta mi familia en Lita mucho, voy a visitar familia en futuro es muy simpatico. Todos personas entiendan mi espanol?

Ok I´ll switch to English now!!! Just trying to practice my spanish a bit as its been getting a little better with each day! Anyway ..wow where to begin!!! Well after three long months I cleared the last hurdle this week and passed the final oral spanish test and have cleared ALL three months worth of technical, cultural, language, and other various competencies and am all set to be sworn in as a official Peace Corps volunteer on Thursday afternoon. We´ll be leaving on Sunday for Quito where we have a lot of administrative meetings and logistical stuff to go over before the swearing in at the US Ambassadors house on Thursday. Needless to say a lot of us are happy to be done with training and get started with the real Peace Corps experience. At times the training period has been stressful, difficult, frustrating with many challenges both mental and phyisical, but after having gone through it I feel like a better person for succeeding. Not everyone in our group got to the end of training..we started with 51 and are down to 45. Peace Corps just isnt for everyone!!! But those of us whom made it are psyched and ready to go!!! We´ll all be in Quito from Sunday (May 13) to the following Saturday before we all split off to go start life at our sites.

I will confess it is going to be difficult to have to say good-bye to my host family in Lita. The whole experience of living with them has been nothing but positive and I´ll definately be going back for visits over the years as I´ve grown quite fond of them. At the same time I´m excited and ready to get started on work at my own site and make my impact fealt for the better there. There is a bit of nervousness and anxiety that I´m having along with most others....as this will be our first time OUT THERE on our own with nothing but our own vices to guide us!! Actually I find it all more or less exciting more then any other feeling!!

Well to update everyone on some more interesting news and stories, we had quite the interesting week in Lita. So here we are monday evening, Jennifer (the other trainee at my host site in Lita) and myself walking to the phone office so she could call her family in the U.S. for her birthday. Anyway when we got to the phone office there were about six Ecuadorian military people waiting to use the phone as well. Keep in mind their is a small military base on the road above Lita. In any event the military guys started talking to Jenn and I, and not before long we discovered a few of them had really good english. A few of them had trained in different parts of the states with the U.S. military, some in Fort Knox, and even one in Washington DC for 6 months. Anyway we hit it off and they all sang to Jennifer upon discovering it was her birthday. So later thet night around 10pm its pooring rain with a little lightening and I peer out my window to see about 70-80 Ecuadorian soldiers in full fatigue, guns and all marching into the town plaza of Lita. Being the curious person I am I grabbed my camera and cautiously approached the scene to check out what was going on! As I followed the soldiers they marched in front of the house where Jennifer was living, lined up in rows and all of them proceeded to sing Happy Birthday to her followed by the sending up of a flair. Needless to say it was one heck of a site and way cool! I took plenty of photos of the scene and even got some with me and the soldiers. I tried to convince them to let me pose with a machine gun...but they weren´t to keen on that idea.

Earlier the same day that the military thing happened I had a unique opportunity to play with some snakes. I used a protective glove and got to handle two of the worlds most deadlies snakes (they were baby snakes so not too big) anyway it was a Equiz and Coral snake....I have plenty of photos that will soon be on the way to the states!! In any event it was all very cool and made for an exciting week.

I´m going to wrap this letter up before it starts getting to long here!! All in all things are going great now and I´m just very excited to have made it through training and will be more excited to swear in on Thursday. I´ve come to another milestone in my life with doing the Peace Corps, and now being here going through training and preparing to serve my forthcoming two years...I have no regrets and no doubts about the decision I´ve made. As for what the future holds down the road...well time will tell but I´m bent more then ever now on getting myself through law school after Peace Corps then off to acheiving a name in the political arena perhaps, Governor, Senator, Congressman or even President. Through all the emotion and challenges one can go through with an experience like this...I think Peace Corps does a fantastic job of offering its volunteers a discovery of confidence to do anything with ones self and future. As I wrote in my diary a while back....."Don´t Dream it, Do it".

Hasta Lluego, I´ll be in touch again soon...Hope all is well



Hola Everyone - Well we got through our last meetings today as Peace Corps TRAINEES. Tomorrow at 830am we will arrive at the US Ambassadors residence for our swearing in ceremony!! In any event thanks for all the emails this week to those of you who wrote and those who sent letters via postal mail. I will have time to respond to everyone personally on Thursday and Friday, so I just wanted you all to know I´m not blowing you off just hadnt had a few hours to respond personally yet......hold on for a day or two more!!!

I just sent out a letter or rather e-mail to President Bush and thought I´d share with you all what I wrote him. You´ll find it written below!!! I´ll be in touch again soon in the next day or two to let you all know how the swearing in went!!!! Hope all is well,



Dear Mr. President,

My name is Stephen Louis Krasner, I´m 24 years old and tomorrow morning I will be swearing in at the U.S. Ambassadors house in Ecuador to become an official Peace Corps Volunteer. We´ve speant the past three months in community based training learning Spanish and technical skills for our service. It is with great pride that I will take on this service for the next two years.

I´m writing to you in concern with many different things I´ve been reading and hearing down here in regards to your administrations Environmental stance. Too be honest I´m a little discouraged with the news that you have pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, are planning to expand oil drilling persuits and our examining the former administrations actions to protect certain lands. I feel this approach towards the environment is a step in the wrong direction.

What discourages me the most here, is here we are a group of Peace Corps Volunteers spread throughout the world trying to help the lives of people and in many aspects improve the worlds environment. In the agricultural program that I will be swearing into tomorrow, part of our job will be to assist in the reduction of chemical use on the lands, deforestation, and the improvement of waste management. These are not all of our different goals and assignments, but they are a big part of them. I feel as though what were doing under the flag of our nation to embetter these challenges and problems is being countered at home by actions of your administration.

I would hope that you and your administration would make better efforts to participate in our worlds responsibility and effort to look out for and assist in embettering our fragile environment. Thank you for your time and attention on this matter.

With Regards,

Stephen Louis Krasner


Some people talk about things, some people dream about a grand future.....and some people make it happen. Walking up to the podium this morning, after having stood with my group taking the oath of allegence to Peace Corps, and recieving my official certificate and shaking the U.S. Ambassadors hand was an experience I will not soon forget.

The swearing in was held at the Ambassador house (in Quito)-----more like a beautiful resort compound overlooking the snow capped Andes in the backyard!!! We all were excited to cross the line and become official volunteers today. Tonight we have put together an huge party here in one of the hotels!!! Its going to be a long night of celebrating needless to say! Anyhow I was able to corner the Ambassador after the ceremony and got a good photo of her and I with the mountains as a backdrop. I then got in a great one on one discussion with her on Plan Columbia, and the drug problem and how it relates to Ecuador. Being an aspring politician of course I offered my own insight and views on the situation. We then discussed the new U.S. intelligence airbase and Manta......with a little talk on the current Bush Administration. She also gave a speech during our swearing in shedding some light on what is going on with all these situations as well as U.S. policy.

On Saturday morning I will be on route to my site to begin a two year post, not knowing where the results in two years will lie. This country from all Ive seen in my three months has so much going for it and so much potential. Its got great natural resources, rich lands, and a cultural and strong people. Unfortunately the government and corruption here as well as debts to the IMF and World Bank hold it down and people have little faith in the government and democratic system here. It is hopefully through the work we will do here and the cross cultural exchanges to be shared in the next years will help this nation improve its short term needs and hopes for livelihood and at the same time spread some foundations of ideas and beliefs which made our country what it is today! Only time will tell, but in my site of Luz de America...I will commit myself to these foundations and beliefs for the couple years ahead.

I hope all is well and I look forward to future correspondence as my service to Peace Corps gets underway.


Stephen Louis Krasner


Hola mi amigos y familia. He vivido en mi nuevo sitio por tres dias ahora. Todas es mas o menos bien. El primero dias en mi sitio por trabajar es no muy rapida porque es nesecito para mi aprenda diferente systemas de negocio en mi comunidad despues mas trabajar. Solo problema para mi es un languaje, es dificil para mi entiendo todas personas.

Ok I´ll conclude the Spanish lesson for now!!! These first few days are going kinda slow as was to be expected. Hence I find myself keeping busy by doing research here in the internet cafes in Santo Domingo. I´ve already made some initial contacts with different exporters in the states. Peace Corps philosophy is that the first three months at our sites should more or less be for observation and getting to know the people. As for the project, well one of the ones, Ive undertaken with this exporting business...on the scale Ill be doing it, is unlike anything any other Peace Corps volunteer has successfully attempted. Granted thats kinda how I like it!!! I always seem to like situations that are more challenging and difficult than others. But boy am I going to have my hands full in the future with this project!!!

It´s hard for me to believe that I´ve been out here for over 3 months already. Sometimes it seems like its been an eternity, when other times it seems hardly any time at all. Out here living in a third world country a person starts seeing things differently and definately becomes more humbled by the experiences. People in this environment don´t take for granted all that we do in the United States. A luxery here is simply to have functional electricity, plumbing (toilet and shower), and for those lucky ones access to a telephone. Amazing observation is it seems those who have less are some of the more generous people I´ve ever encountered, totally willing to share whatever they have with the passing by stranger.

As for me, well I definately feel myself changing as I become more and more absorbed into the culture and language of this place. With each passing day my skills in leadership, problem solving, and communication are tested and enhanced. Sure I miss everyone at home.....but then again the word home is shaping up to have a different meaning for me these days. I´m not quite sure sometimes where to call home anymore......Ecuador or the States. Its amazing though, a persons knowledge of life increases dramatically when not surrounded by all the distractions that we´re all accustomed too in the U.S. I´ve definately learned to view the world a lot differently then in the past!! Hence, I think if a person has a desire to be a world leader one day, its only in their best interest to get out their and know the world a bit.

This Sunday I´ll be working with my counterpart to locate and secure a house for my two years of service!!!! This friday I´ll be leaving early in the morning for Quito so I can pick up the rest of my stuff in the office that I couldnt manage to get here, as well as use some resources in the Peace Corps office to help me get started on some projects. I´ll then be returning back to Luz de America sometime Saturday afternoon. In any event things are going well, and as some of you have realized I have more regular access to e-mail now that I´m at my site. Well put simply anytime I want to check e-mail I just have to get on a bus (their are tons that pass by my site all day) for the 20 minute ride or so to Santo Domingo and go into a internet cafe!!!

I hope all is well and feel free to e-mail whenever now as its a lot easier these days and more convienent for me to get online!!! I wrote kinda a poem in my journal a month ago that I submitted (at the the advice of some peers) to be published in the Ecuador Peace Corps Newsletter which comes out every three months. In any regards I thought I´d share it with you all and will send it out in a seperate e-mail following this one!!

Take care, and be in touch!! Hasta Lluego,


El Señor Krasner


Dear All-

Well its been a real busy couple days and will only get busier this coming week!!! Where to start...ok Thursday I went shopping for all the big line items I needed for my new apartment here!!! Lets see it consisted of a bed frame, mattress (a nice one....about queensize), sheets, pillows, blanket, Refridgerator (you wouldnt believe what they cost out here), gas stove with 4 burners, gas tank, big wood table for stove and kitchen utensils, plastic table and two chairs, window shades, door locks, some pots and pans (more like one pot and one pan) etc.... Still need to get silverware, plates and all that jazz!! Anyway I will say this about Peace Corps, the money they give you for moving in allowence is kinda a joke as I spent double that to get the basics. The tough thing about being a Peace Corps volunteer in a site thats never had one or there is no one about to leave...is you have to buy everything from scratch. A lot of people just buy stuff for their places directly from the leaving volunteer and pay them the move in allowence for everything. So the volunteer in 2 years when Im leaving is going to make out quite well!!! Anyway the first night in my place was nice!!!! I forgot what it was like to sleep on a bed and mattress where you didnt feel the wooden planks jabbing into your back!!! It was also an amazing experience to be able to go to my fridge and pull out a COLD bottle of water.....wow!! Oh and I took a shower for the first time in 5 days (basically the shower where I was staying before was.....well scarry by most standards) It´ll be weird to cook for my first time..probibly tomorrow since Im spending a night in Santo Domingo. A old University of Hartford Alumnus who graduated 2 years before me has been working in Quito the past couple months. Hence she is coming to visit for the weekend!!! So its easier to get a hotel room or a couple rooms rather for tonight. Wow to speak English this weekend!!!!

OK so here´s what my work recently has been like aside all the hassels of moving in !!! Yesterday I spent about 6 hours visiting different Cacao farms who are a part of the Cacao Association in my town. There were three representatives from Quito that met us (the farmers and I) to look at and get information from the area. There is a non functioning processing plant for Cacao in our town and these guys from Quito have access to financing to help with agricultural projects. Anyhow they came out and things went all right!!! Im determined to press these guys for this financing to go through. So I ask permission from the farmers in the Association after the Quito reps left, if I could arrange a meeting at their offices in Quito. I got the blessing and I have an email address for one of the reps who i got along with very well and will be trying to arrange a meeting with them at their offices in the next couple weeks. If we got the processing plant functioning then that would put us in a very advantagous position to export a final product direct to the United States and Europe. The machinery is used to seperate the different classes of cacao bean and then i think the other is to further process it!!! Anyhow, Im going to try and meet these guys with my counterpart and another Peace Corps person who has better Spanish then I do, so I can use them as a translator where needed!!!

Ok thats the cacao project for the time being!!! Next on Tuesday I will be meeting with the director of the school to coordinate my teaching schedule. YES I WILL BE TEACHING ENGLISH to students a couple times a week!!!! Then on Wednesday I have the Peace Corps Volunteer stationed in Lita visting with two of her towns leaders (Lita was where I lived for my 3 months of training) to view a Quayle Egg project that a womens group is doing in my town. This project is going so successful for this womens group and pulling in quite a bit that during my site visit the TV crews were here doing a story on it!!! In any event what were doing is called a inter-technical exchange program. Whereas the town leaders from Lita will come to learn about HOW to successfully pull off this project and then take that idea back to Lita!!!!!

Ok well Im pretty much tapped out of things to say at the moment but this should give you an idea of where everything is at with me!!!!!

Take care and talk to you all later!!!!



Hi all - ok just a brief update as things are now starting to get quite busy!!! I met with the director of the school this morning and well yours truly is a new professor at the school starting one week from today. My teaching schedule is Tuesdays and Thursdays 2 classes per day one from 8:15am - 9am and one from 9am - 9:45am. So all in all Ill be teaching four classes a week to different grades. In case you have not guessed I´ll be teaching English. Last night I met with the director of the womens group and starting a week from Friday Ill be spending all my fridays working with the womens groups on an assortment of projects from Health, Home Gardens, teaching their kids english, etc..... On top of this I have set up a meeting with some potential fianancers in Quito to upgrade the Cacao production fascilities in my site. This should give us a bit of an edge when we are ready to obtain markets in Europe and the States to develop exporting practices.

So while most Peace Corps volunteers are spending their first 3 months just getting accustomed to new surroundings and adapting to the lifestyles Ive chosen the path of diving right into the grand scheme of things!!!! the teaching thing definately has me a little nervous...thank G-d i have a bit of a sense of humor about it!!! Friday Im off to Quito early in the morning to take care of some business at the Peace Corps office and perhaps go see a movie etc and obtain some finances out of the safe.

Ive been getting a lot of emails asking if I want anything sent here....well since Im going to have a TV and VCR very soon...heck some movies for it would be cool....besides that Im pretty set, unless anybody has teaching materials or instructions for creating lesson plans!!!! Hope all is well and Im off to read up on some current happenings!!!




Dear all,

I hope this letter finds everyone doing well.It´s now been just over 4 months here in service with the Peace Corps. Things are progressing well on almost all fronts!! Every project I´ve begun this past month has been producing positive results in their initial stages.Thus unlike previous e-mails, in this one Ill discuss some things out here which are both puzzling and not of the most happy, cheery nature.

Ecuador is probibly one of the more safe countries in Latin America, however as of stories I´ve heard and a close call I had its not without its dangers.

Something happened to me about a month ago which I have not told many because I guess I was a little shocked and fealt kinda stupid about it! In the early evening just a few hours after I had been sworn in as a volunteer and was on my way to the graduation párty I experienced a dose of the real life effects of poverty and how thats transformed to crime. I was walking a little off the beaten path on a side street in Quito on my way to the hotel where the party was takinbg place when i gotta a little lost. Before I knew it one guy walking towards me bumped into me lifting 60 bucks from my pocket. Immediatly i knew something was wrong and turned around to see two others and the guy who walked into me approaching from a half block behind, one of them reaching into his jacket. The main road was ahead of me with a few taxis on the side...not even thinking I grabbed a handful of rocks and gravel from the side of the road jerked around threw it and darted for a taxi. With my wallet safely in my fleece vest pocket..and only minus 60 bucks!!!

I never reported this to Peace Corps which was probibly stupid but i was in such shock that it happened!! To this point in time makes me a little nervous to think about what the guy was reaching in his jacket for.... My words of advice taxis, gravel and rocks are great allies..no seriously....sometimes crime and the dangers of a foreign country cant be avoided, your best defense is common sense. I learned this lesson very well. This is a good story for a practical downside experience.

Que mas.....now for a look at a more emotional challenge that Peace Corps volunteers can face out here, at least from my perspective!! Its been a month since the business of training involvement has passed, and now sitting in my place at nights alone...well one can be haunted; at times by thoughts and emotions. As I sit in my apartment staring at the numerous photos of friends, family and others I care about...well it can be hard. You look at the faces of everyone wondering what they are doing, thinking and saying at that point in time from a world that is somewhat fading from your own thoughts. So I sit here, as Im writing this, Tuesday night on paper first.....listening to my Gladiator soundtrack and looking at countless photos of times, places and memories. The thoughts which haunt you is whether those who you have left behind; still know your gone, do those whom you are close with ...well are they slowly drifting away from your own life.

You walk through streets, markets, cities, pueblos with pairs of eyes staring at you sending a chill of lonliness surging through you. Out here with limited communication skills, all eyes watching you, and not to many chances to talk to family and freindsetc.... a feeling of isolation attacks your nerves and causes you to sometimes fight the occasional tear from falling. Then you pause...maybe sip your coffee and remind yourself why you are here, what your goals are, and think of all the potntial good you have the opportunity to work towards....then you realize the sacrifice you made to be here was well worth it. Every now and then you take a look in the mirror and you see a bit of a difference in the person standing before you!!! They are a bit more worldly, wise and mature, it is then you realize the sacrifce made wasnt only for the good of those you serve and help, but indeed it was for the good of yourself as well......

This experience is kind of like sailing through and ocean. You encounter excitement, storms, calm, and then arrive at a port of destination at the end, where that port is...only time will tell.


Stephen Louis Krasner


Hola mi amigos y familia tambien,

Como estan? Que hacen? Estoy muy bien! Aqui todos es tranquilo y suficiente ahora. He trabajado much esto semana con la escuela, mujeras grupa y cacao asociacion. Yo tengo mucho reunions proximo semana, asi no vacacion para mi en poco la futura. Voy a Quito proximo fin de semana....depende en mi negocio en Luz de America!! No voy a visitar Quito por 4 de Julio fiesta en la embajadoras casa, por que yo quiero visitar otra fiesta con mucho cuerpo de paz voluntarios. Manana aqui (martes) es un grande fiesta porque es dia de canton en Santo Domingo. Que mas....esta bien yo cambio por ingles....mas fascil por ustedes no?

My spanish isnt perfect in every sense but its coming along to a good point where I can communicate and comprehend quite a bit. In any event things are on the up and up! I´ve been quite busy this past week with several meetings with the Cacao Asociation and potential financial backers from Quito. I dont want to jinx anything but I will say things are shaping up rather nicely, and a lot faster then I would have imagined.  Ive got the womens group working successfully doing a big home gardening project. They think Im some agricultural guru....so Im going to let them think that, wouldnt want to burst their bubble by telling them Ive just been learning the subject since arriving in Ecuador.  The English classes at the school are actually a lot of fun and I must be doing something right as my students are retaining a lot of what I´m teaching them. Two days ago (Saturday) I hiked out in the bosque...jungle... a little ways to visit some farmers out there. It was a nice hike, although left me a little dehydrated for a day or two. However I now know why they call the jungle THE JUNGLE. We saw some amazing creatures out there including several exotic birds, lizards and my favorite snakes. Anyhow I talked to these farmers out there who are growing Cacao about joining up with us for this future exporting project....needless to say they were thrilled with the idea and I think they are going to come on board. One of these farmers showed me his collection of pre-colonial indian artifacts he found out while harvesting his fields. It was really cool to get the chance to check that stuff out!!! One of these days Ill have to head down towrds Cuenca to check out all the Inca ruins down there. Thats about all for now....hope all is well on your end. Oh I added a signature feature to me emails that include my contact information and phone number in Ecuador where I can be reached most evenings. The phone belongs to the people living next store (my landlord so to speak) but they are more then kind about letting me recieve calls there every now and then!!! Ill be in touch again soon, take care!!


Hey all - Happy belated 4th!!!! Im on my way out of Quito but thought I would drop a line real quick!!! Ive been in Quito the past couple nights along with a ton of other volunteers from all over!! The U.S. Ambassador had a huge party for all US staff in the country yesterday and it was a real impressive 4th of July shin dig...bands, door prizes, tons of food, and LOTS of good quality beer!!! Everyone had a real good time and its been fun seeing a lot of people from my group for the first time since training!!! Seems our 4th of July celebration lasted for 2 days and well we are all pretty much broke after the past couple days......but it was well worth it and a real nice time!! Hope everyone is well....Ill be in touch!!!!


Hey all - Just wanted to write with a few updates from down here!! Yesterday evening there was a huge meeting in my site with this organization called FUDI here in Ecuador. We have been meeting with them for a while now, and the Cacao Association had been in meetings and contact with them well before I came on board. In any event it was a big meeting (first time I put on a sport jacket and tie for a Ecuadorian meeting) with newspaper reporters, Tv cameras the whole 9 yards!!! The Association recieved financing of $345,000 for the construction of a office, the polishing of the production fascilities, a vehicle for transport, a bodega, copia centro and funds to buy cacao from surrounding towns and places, and the list goes on. About $36,000 of the money will go toward commercialization and international exporting projects.... So basically this was a major success for the site and surrounding towns etc. In any event all these variables have added to what will beome a huge and successful operation down here and the people in my site as well as others are on cloud 9 about all this!!!

Everything else is going well with my english classes and work with the womens group!!! Ive started a few side projects such as writing a book and sending out proposals to a few magazines and newspapers to write for them. Ill update you all at a future date to let you know how it all turns out. Hope all is well!!!




Hi all just thought Id write a quick note to further update everyone with the goings ons down here this side of the Equator. Things are going well for the most part, my many prjects are all running smoothly with little setbacks!!! In just a few weeks now the girlfriend Lisa will be down for a visit.....first visitor thus far from the states!!! Anyhow she will be in for a couple weeks overlapping my birthday (September 1st) at which time I think we will be traveling down to CUENCA for a my birthday weekend to check out the sites and explore the city.

Que mas..... im off to a 4 day conference Monday, which if nothing else will serve as a nice escape and a chance to hang out with other volunteers for a few days!!! Well I hope all is well with everyone.... Ive gotten about 6-7 emails asking when in November Ill be around...ok November 17th - 26th!! Im off to return to my site!! Oh I think my students arent liking me to much right now in the school...they had there first final exam for English class, and when I caught to of them cheating they recieved immediate 0s!!!! However I was recently informed that just about every female student of mine has a crush on me.....along with about a group of 25 or so ladies who live in town and thought I should know on numerous occasions that they were single. All in all it is quite amusing!!! Hope all is well and Ill be in touch,


Stephen Louis Krasner


Hey all - Its been a while since my last group email but things have been getting busier by the minute here. So I figured Id send out a little update on everything thats been going on.

Cacao Exporting project - Things have been going well with this ever since the groups recieved the grant for 345K. The office is going to be constructed shortly which will help a great deal in our persuits of international and domestic markets. I have a meeting with this organization called INIAP on monday in Quito. They will be taking samples of the cacao and giving me a scientific analysis of the quality and so on that I will later use in a sales-marketing report for potential buyers.

Womens Groups - Things are going well with them and I must be a success as the group has doubled in size the past few weeks. Along with the home gardening projects Ill be assisting them in establishing what is called a community bank. This will serve as a vehicle to financially assisty members of the group on personal needs as well as small projects. We are also planning to start a sleu of small income generation projects in the coming months, that ill go into more detail about once we get underway. I also went to a meeting tuesday where about seven women were meeting with this organizations rep to discuss getting credit...a loan...of about $1200 to purchase a cow. Now anytime you have poor people borrowing money like this is a bad idea, and its even worse under the auspices of a economy in jeopardy. In addition to this the women would have to pay the loan back within a year at a 23% interest rate. So I pretty mnuch intervened and talked with the group of women after the meeting, explaining to them all that could go wrong with this, as well as offering several alternatives such as applying for a grant, fundraising, etc... When all was said and done they seemed rather pleased with my intervention on this issue.

School - The students continue to be doing well with there english studies in my classes. Ive introduced several new teaching styles and activities along with conservative ones to enhance their learning in the classes. They just took there trimester exam for english last week and the test scores were encouraging.

Personal projects - Im continuing my project of writing a book....and being a little biased its turning out rather well!!! Ive also been in contact with a few local newspapers in the DC area about perhaps doing some freelance writing for them...its looking positive so keep your fingers crossed!!!

So all in all things are moving full steam ahead!!! What I find the most mind boggling in all of this, is unlike and past jobs, titles or postions Ive held before......with this the decisions I make and assistance I give has a direct impact on peoples live, which at times when I stop to think about it can be an overwhelming responsibility... The biggest fear being that of failure!!!

Well I hope all of you are well, feel free to write me a line when you have the chance,

Take care,



Hey all -

Its been quite sometime since I last sent out a email talking about whats going on over here on the Peace Corps front. Things here continue to go well!! The past 5-6 weeks has been quite busy as far as work has gone!! I attended two conferences or rather retreats back in September. The first one took place down in the beach town of Ballanita which is located in the province of Guayas...southern coast of Ecuador. There I spent 4 days along with about 20 other volunteers and selected counterparts we hose to bring with us from our respected sites. The conference was on community banking!! Mostly this is to help different populatiuons of women in our site. The community bank is a small town banking project comprised of no more than 30 people or so in ones site. Each week they pay a dues of .50 cents, which all goes into a wooden box which is secured by three different locks. They then vote on a executive board consisting of a President, Treasurer, Secretary and two auditors. Three different people carry keys to this lock box so then no single person can open it. In any event after about a month or so they accumilatem, through paying dues, enough money to give out loans of small amounts. The interest rate is set at 10%, thereby if a person barrows $10 they pay $11 at the end of a 4 week period. Projects like this may seem of little use in the world we live in for the states but it serves as a real helping hand for those in a town who simply need to borrow some money to start a project, buy some extra school supplies for a kid or get medicines they need immediatly. Most of the time these people do have money coming in but timing is never right in some circumstances, which makes this project valuable. In any event there is a lot more to it but Im just trying to give you a general overview. We have had three meeting so far and things have gone really successful, we niow have a fully operational community bank in a womens group of about 30 in my site.

After the banking conference I was selected with about 15 other volunteers to be trained as a Peer Support Counselor to assist in a variety of issues that other volunteers may be having. We were trained in forms of crisis counseling, communication, and sensativity awareness, as well as in Rape crisis situations, Domestic violence etc... We also signed contracts and recieved instructions on when to use confidentiality and when we must break it. In any event it was a very informative conference and it also added greatly to my reponsibilities as a Peace Corps volunteer.

With everything going on in light of the recent attacksd in the U.S. and the aftermath, I think its fair to say that many volunteers here had the wind knocked out of them so to speak. However it seems like people are getting back into the swing of things. Its been hard on a lot of volunteers to be away from home during this time as many of us, including myself, feel helpless in a sense to be there for friends and family back home.

In any event 3 weeks from tomorrow Ill be returning back to the U.S. where Ill be there from Nov. 10-26. Im kinda excited at the same time wondering what it will be like to be back in the U.S. after 9 months. Im sure Ill be shocked at all the prices in the stores and try to bargain them down even....and probibly in spanish. The thought of taking a hot shower at will is pretty mind boggling to me!!! I hope all of you are doing well, Take care,



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