July 14, 2003 - Charlotte Sun Herald: Peace Corps volunteer Jeffrey Dunaway Jr home from Armenia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Armenia: Peace Corps Armenia : The Peace Corps in Armenia: July 14, 2003 - Charlotte Sun Herald: Peace Corps volunteer Jeffrey Dunaway Jr home from Armenia

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 9:09 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps volunteer Jeffrey Dunaway Jr home from Armenia

Peace Corps volunteer Jeffrey Dunaway Jr home from Armenia

Peace Corps volunteer home from Armenia

Jeffrey Dunaway Jr. got off the plane after 24 hours in the air. He wasn't in America anymore -- he was halfway around the world in a country he had only read about, where the people spoke a language he couldn't even comprehend.

He was now the foreigner.

Thirty of his fellow Peace Corps volunteers stood at the gates in the Yerevan airport, in the capital of the Asian country of Armenia, clapping as Dunaway and the new recruits exited the plane ready and willing to change the world.

Dunaway, 23, a 1998 Port Charlotte High school graduate, recently returned from a year of work in Armenia with the Peace Corps. He learned to live without peanut butter, a car and fast food, and he learned to live modestly.

"Being in such a different country with their own traditions so different than America, where people live on $20 a month and sometimes don't have running water -- that will really make you humble," Dunaway said. "I feel so fortunate to have been able to see this country. Sure the world knows how much volunteer work is needed in the world, but you don't truly know until you step off that plane and straight into this new lifestyle."

Dunaway's thin Florida blood had to quickly adapt to below freezing winters, non-flushing toilets and budgeting himself to $6 a day.

"I have eaten every conceivable part of a pig," said Dunaway, describing his meals in Armenia with his host family. "The tail, the ears -- you name it, I ate it."

During winter months, Dunaway experienced his pipes freezing and losing his accessibility to water.

"It began snowing on Dec. 9 and didn't stop until after Easter. It was terribly cold," he said. "My pipes froze for about two months, so every other day I would go to my neighbor's house and fill up two buckets of water. One morning I woke up and the buckets of water had turned into frozen ice -- if that gives you an idea of how cold it was."

He lived with his host family for the first three months of his stay, taking about four hours a day of Armenian language classes.

Dunaway first became interested in the Peace Corps during his senior year at Flagler College in St. Augustine, where he graduated with a degree in political science.

"I wanted to do graduate work, but I was so young when I finished I thought it would be a perfect time for me to do some traveling," he said. "When I first called home and told my parents, of course initially it was something they did not expect, but they always put 100 percent support into me and what I do."

After going through a particularly competitive interview process, Dunaway was assigned to Armenia. His first choice of country was the former Soviet Union, but Armenia -- which is east of Turkey, near Russia and also borders Iran -- was a good second because his interests lie in eastern Europe.

"I want to get my master's in international relations, specifically dealing with affairs in eastern Europe," he said. "When I first opened my invitation to Armenia, I thought, "Well, where is this?"

Dunaway's family, parents, Jeff and Angela, and sisters, Kayla, 15, and Ashley, 21, keep track of Jeff's journey's through e-mail.

"Everyone always wants to know where he is," Angela said. "We bought all the relatives globes for Christmas."

Angela will return with her son to Armenia to visit for two weeks to travel the country.

"Since he was 12, we always knew he was going to do something big like this," Angela said with a smile. "He has always been very political, very personable and self-motivated. We have never been the type of parents to push him but he didn't need to be pushed; he did plenty of that himself."

He will spend another year in Armenia where he works for a TV/radio station.

"We just wrote a grant proposal to the embassy, who sponsors a small democracy grant to local areas," Dunaway said. "Right before I left, I found out the $21,000 grant proposal had been approved. We plan to update the video equipment and move from VHS to digital."

As part of the program, Dunaway and other Peace Corps volunteers had to complete a community development project for the area.

"We had a potluck community fair. About 300 to 400 people showed up, which was great because there isn't really an outlet there for them to have that sort of interaction with the community," Dunaway said. "We taught all the kids to limbo."

Before leaving, Dunaway researched the country in order to educate himself as to where he would be going.

"When I went to the country, I really wanted to show the people that there are Americans that are interested in their culture and the issues they are facing," he said. "We aren't just arrogant Americans coming over."

Jeffrey Dunaway Jr. wants to change the world.

Slowly, one step at a time -- he is.

For more information on the Peace Corps, visit the Web site -- www.peacecorps.gov -- or you can e-mail Jeffrey Dunaway Jr. at jeffreydunaway_jr@hotmail.com

You can e-mail Meredith Cochie at mcochie@hotmail.com


Staff Writer

Charlotte North Carolina

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Story Source: Charlotte Sun Herald

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Armenia



By April Birdwell (0-2pool156-43.nas1.fort-myers1.fl.us.da.qwest.net - on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 12:51 am: Edit Post

Hi I work with Meredith at the Charlotte Sun and I just wanted to let you guys know that this newspaper is in Port Charlotte, Fla. Not Charlotte, N.C.

Please correct!

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