July 16, 2003 - Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: Christy Morgan returns from service in Kazakhstan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kazakstan : Peace Corps Kazakhstan : The Peace Corps in Kazakstan: July 16, 2003 - Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: Christy Morgan returns from service in Kazakhstan

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 9:06 am: Edit Post

Christy Morgan returns from service in Kazakhstan

Christy Morgan returns from service in Kazakhstan

Prentiss County woman spends two years in north Kazakhstan

7/16/2003 7:40:07 AM

Daily Journal


Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

BOONEVILLE - Living and working in primitive conditions with people in a Third World country for two years only fueled Christy Morgan's adventurous spirit.

"It is one of the best and most challenging things I have ever done," said Morgan, 31, who returned to the Altitude Community last month with a suitcase full of memories and souvenirs from her travels with the Peace Corps.

Her parents, Jimmy and Judy Morgan, weren't surprised when she announced three years ago that she was joining the Peace Corps.

"She has always been adventurous," Judy Morgan said.

After graduating from New Site High School, Christy took off for Wyoming, worked at the Grand Teton National Park for five months and later went dog sledding in Minnesota. She really enjoys hiking and camping in the great outdoors, her mother said.

Staying busy has been her trademark. She attended night school at Northeast Mississippi Community College while working at Heartland Building Products for six years. She also worked as a volunteer at Crow's Neck Environmental Center at Paden, which helped give her a leg up when applying to the Peace Corps.

Country selected

The Peace Corps selected her host country based on her business skills and assigned her to a village in Northern Kazakhstan.

She learned enough "travel" Russian to get by and taught economics to secondary students in grades 9-11 in Borovskoi, where students graduate after the 11th grade, Christy said.

Food there was another adventure. One of the national dishes was pasta and horsemeat, a real delicacy, Christy recalled.

"They go to a lot of trouble to make it," she said. "It's put on a big dish and placed on a short-legged table. The people sit on the floor to eat and eat with their hands." But they honored Morgan's traditions by giving her a fork.

Beet soup and potatoes were staples at meal time and drinking vodka seemed to be a national pastime, Morgan said.

"There is a lot of drinking and there is a lot of pressure to drink," she said. "They feel slighted if you don't but I would tell them that it was not my custom."

Trudging to the outhouse in knee-deep snow, drawing water from a well and taking one bath a week on Saturday was also the norm, she said.

American attitude

Not everyone likes Americans, she said. "They think you are rich and have maids and they are ashamed of their homes," she said.

But the only time she was afraid was on Sept. 11, 2001.

"We were on standfast, a warning to not leave your site and to call in every day," she said. "We didn't know what was happening, if were we under attack. It was complete chaos.

"I didn't know what happened until I got a call from my mom," she said. "I will always remember that."

The Kazakhstan people expressed their sorrow and the children were full of questions, she said.

The Peace Corps experience left Morgan with a greater sense of patriotism and appreciation for America.

Her host village had electricity, frequently disrupted; telephones and television but no running water.

"I appreciate what we have and I also appreciate what the Kazakhstan people are about," she said. "It is a slower pace there and the kids learn three languages and how to play a musical instrument."

Morgan also learned to play the guitar from a teacher who spoke no English.

Their religion is predominantly Muslim with some Russian Orthodox churches. Morgan attended a small Baptist church, established by German missionaries, that worshiped with familiar old hymns. She sang along in English while the others sang in Russian.

A bonus to her service was vacation time spent traveling to foreign lands including Egypt, Russia and parts of Europe.

"I would encourage anyone who ever thought they wanted to join the Peace Corps to give it a shot," said Morgan, who will continue her education this fall at Ole Miss where she will major in international studies.

Appeared originally in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 7/16/2003 8:00:00 AM, section A , page 1

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Story Source: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

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