August 25, 2003 - Tarentum Valley News Dispatch: Peace Corps volunteer Laura Fleischer finds fulfillment -- and husband -- in Ecuador

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ecuador: Peace Corps Ecuador : The Peace Corps in Ecuador: August 25, 2003 - Tarentum Valley News Dispatch: Peace Corps volunteer Laura Fleischer finds fulfillment -- and husband -- in Ecuador

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, August 25, 2003 - 4:08 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps volunteer Laura Fleischer finds fulfillment -- and husband -- in Ecuador

Peace Corps volunteer Laura Fleischer finds fulfillment -- and husband -- in Ecuador

Peace Corps volunteer finds fulfillment -- and husband -- in Ecuador

By Lauren Mazur
Contributing writer
Monday, August 25, 2003

HARRISON: Before Laura Fleischer graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, she thought she would do some traveling. After spending two years in Ecuador with the Peace Corps, the Natrona Heights native returned as Laura Proaño.

"We are culturally different, but we are all the same," Proaño said.

The Peace Corps ultimately decided that Proaño was to go to Ecuador, but she requested Latin America. After dealing in international affairs and business in her undergraduate work, she already had prepared herself for her journey.

"It's a good, reputable organization," Proaño said.

Her placement in Ecuador meant that she was on her own with the natives. The closest Peace Corps volunteer was two hours away.

"I was apprehensive of her going at first, but then I was behind her," said Proaño's mother, Diane Fleischer. "I had confidence in her."

Proaño said the work was an independent task and it was up to the individual volunteers on how it panned out.

"You make of it what you want it to be," Proaño said.

Proaño worked as a teacher as well as in business with a savings and loan group on a community bank project. She also worked with a group of women who made recycled paper products.

"It's personal motivation on how it turns out. It's personal motivation that makes work what it is," Proaño said.

Ecuador being a developing nation, volunteers' work is based on their initial skills or areas in which they have degrees.

"If she can do service for another country, if it's a good cause and she's a better person because of it, go for it," Fleischer said.

Proaño said that it takes about six months to a year for the extensive application process to join the Peace Corps.

"It's the toughest job you'll ever love," Proaño said, borrowing the organization's motto.

Living like a native

Peace Corps volunteers live at the same level as the people they serve, at "grass-roots" levels.

Proaño lived on the coast with an annual stipend of $2,000, which covers rent, food, necessities and some travel money. Every volunteer for the Peace Corps signs up under a two-year contract.

In comparison to the U.S. economy, items are cheaper, but imported items are more expensive. Ecuador is 109,000 square miles, which is about the size of Colorado, but with a population of 11.5 million, about the same as Pennsylvania. The Peace Corps has served the country since 1962.

Since the Peace Corps' establishment as part of the U.S. government in 1961, more than 168,000 people have served in 136 countries. Currently 6,678 people are serving in 70 countries. All volunteers go through three months of training followed by two years of service. About 95 percent of volunteers have college degrees.

"It's a good experience. I'm a better person because of it," Proaño said.

While in Ecuador, Proaño married native Santiago Proaño. There initially was a delay for the two to get married because of the regulations regarding her being a government employee. The Peace Corps technically is part of the U.S. government. Her husband had to go through background checks to prove that he was not a terrorist. The couple was married in February.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Tarentum Valley News Dispatch

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



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.