September 10, 2003 - Florida Times-Union: Emily Febles off to Guatemala with Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guatemala: Peace Corps Guatemala: The Peace Corps in Guatemala: September 10, 2003 - Florida Times-Union: Emily Febles off to Guatemala with Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 11:09 pm: Edit Post

Emily Febles off to Guatemala with Peace Corps

Emily Febles off to Guatemala with Peace Corps

It's more than just a visit

Fernandina: She's off to Guatemala with Peace Corps

By Alison Trinidad
Nassau Neighbors staff writer

A Fernandina Beach resident with a soft spot for animals and farming is off to Guatemala to share those interests through the Peace Corps.

Emily Febles, 22, is committed to stay for two years and three months, even though she's not sure exactly where she'll be sent, or whether she'll have running water or electricity. She is set to teach farmers how to raise animals for either family consumption or the market.

If all goes well, Febles will teach them a little English and they'll teach her some Spanish. She might learn to cook a few Guatemalan dishes and they might learn a few golf swings. It's all about the mixing of cultures, the recent University of Florida graduate said.

Emily Febles graduated from the University of Florida with a double major in English and anthropology and a minor in agricultural policy.
-- Alison Trinidad/staff
Febles has been preparing for this experience since the 10th grade, and she has no qualms about leaving her boyfriend, her family or her home for an adventure of a lifetime.

Febles graduated from the University of Florida last month with a double major in English and anthropology and a minor in agricultural policy. She was scheduled to fly to Guatemala and begin Peace Corps training Sunday.

The week before her flight, she and her family were scanning the papers for news about Hurricane Fabian and the political climate in Guatemala. Her flight had been postponed once before due to inclement weather and political unrest.

Febles also was trying to pack up her life for the next two years. She's allowed only two pieces of luggage, no heavier than 80 pounds altogether. Along with a portable solar-powered shower, she planned on bringing a bottle of sand, sea shells and sharks teeth from home. She debated taking her five- and nine-iron golf clubs.

Peace Corps volunteer Emily Febles lived with the Quichua Indians in Ecuador for two months while in college at UF.
-- Special
"They say you have a lot of down time," Febles said. "The busier you are, the better you are."

Febles said she wanted to join the Peace Corps because she likes to travel and learn about other cultures.

"I want to help people. I want to give something back to a world that's given me a lot by chance," she said.

The Peace Corps is a government agency that sends volunteers to developing countries to help them become self-sufficient. Volunteers work with the community to improve the quality of education for children. They work together to protect the environment and to create economic opportunities. They work on basic projects to keep families healthy and to help them grow more food.

Febles said her education in agriculture and anthropology made her a good candidate for the sustainable agriculture program in Guatemala. She knows how to handle a tractor, use a flame-weeder and how to grow crops. During school, she taught at-risk children to grow community gardens.

Emily Febles met her boyfriend Stephen Goodman while studying in Ecuador. The two were accepted to join the Peace Corps program, but she's going to Guatemala and he's off to Nicaragua.
-- Special

Febles also spent a year volunteering at a goat farm on the outskirts of Gainesville. She learned how to vaccinate, milk and de-worm animals. She makes a mean goat cheese, and can whip up some goat soap, too, she said.

Though Febles has lived in Fernandina Beach since the second grade, she was born in Iowa. Her family contends that her ties to the mid-west still run deep.

"I have the farming bug. They think it may be some of my Iowa blood," she said.

Though the Peace Corps application process is long and competitive, Febles said her passion for agriculture put her at the top of the applicant pool.

"I don't think they filled all the positions in my program," she said. "[But] I tried to do a whole gamut of things to get into the Peace Corps."

During the application process, Febles was torn between choosing an assignment in the Pacific Islands and Latin America. In the end, she chose Latin America to learn Spanish.

"My father is Cuban and everybody but my brother and me speak Spanish. Immersion is the best way [to learn]," Febles said.

She spent two months in Ecuador traveling and living with an indigenous tribe while in college. That's where she met her boyfriend, also an anthropology major. Both were accepted to the Peace Corps program, but he was sent to Nicaragua. They decided to put their relationship on hold for two years and see what happens.

The Peace Corps was too tempting an opportunity to pass up for either of them, Febles said.

"It'll make you a more enlightened person; it'll make you a more compassionate person," she said.

Febles said she can't wait to meet her host family and to start learning a whole new way of life.

"More than anything, [the Peace Corps] just wants to bring two cultures together," she said. "There's so much turbulence and anti-American sentiment in the world. But they tell you, 'Just be yourself; don't portray a false image of what it means to be an American.'"

Staff writer Alison Trinidad can be reached at (904) 261-7606, extension 105, or via e-mail at

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Story Source: Florida Times-Union

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