June 5, 2003 - Winston-Salem Journal: Kenya RPCV James A. Wilson honored with Franklin Award

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kenya: The Peace Corps in Kenya: June 5, 2003 - Winston-Salem Journal: Kenya RPCV James A. Wilson honored with Franklin Award

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Kenya RPCV James A. Wilson honored with Franklin Award



Kenya RPCV James A. Wilson honored with Franklin Award

Peace Corps honors WFU professor for work at home, abroad

By Kevin Begos
JOURNAL WASHINGTON BUREAU

WASHINGTON

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A Wake Forest University professor was honored yesterday by the Peace Corps.

James A. Wilson, an assistant professor of history, was one of 11 people to receive the Franklin H. Williams Award, which recognizes outstanding Peace Corps volunteers of color who have put their overseas experiences to work in their communities.

Wilson, 42, served in the Peace Corps in Kenya from 1985 to 1987, teaching English and African literature to high-school students in a rural community.

As a college student, 'I had often talked about living and working in Africa,' he said.

But when he got to Africa, he said, there were some surprises.

Wilson said he was the only black American Peace Corps volunteer in a group of 80, and both he and his hosts had some preconceived notions about each other.

'The Kenyans didn't understand why my Swahili had this big, Texas, Southern accent,' he said.

And Wilson said he 'had gone there with the Alex Haley complex,' thinking that he would be immediately accepted into African society.

'What I got in the end was even better,' he said of the teaching experience. Since returning to the United States, he said he has been able to dispel many of the myths that many Americans had been taught about Africa.

He has also persuaded 30 people to become Peace Corps volunteers.

Wake Forest has 19 alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps - a 35 percent increase over last year. The university ranks 11th nationally among small colleges and universities for the most alumni currently serving, according to the Peace Corps.

In all, more than 200 Winston-Salem and Greensboro residents have served in the Peace Corps.

Two Salem College alumni are now serving in Zambia and Ecuador, a Winston-Salem State University graduate is serving in Niger, and other area residents are in East Timor, Nicaragua and Paraguay, officials said.

More than 168,000 volunteers have served in 135 countries since the Peace Corps was established in 1961.

Today, more than 6,650 volunteers serve in programs to address business development, health and HIV/AIDS, the environment, education, agriculture and information technology.

Angela Moore, a Peace Corps recruiter who served in the Peace Corps and in AmeriCorps, will be in Winston-Salem today to share her experiences and conduct interviews with area residents.

Moore will be at the Southside Library, 3185 Buchanan St., at 5 p.m.

Kevin Begos can be reached in Washington at (202) 662-7672 or at kbegos@mediageneral.com



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Story Source: Winston-Salem Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kenya; Minority Volunteers

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