September 8, 2003 - Youngstown Vindicator: Corey Ballantyne serves in Peace Corps in the jungles of Cameroon

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Cameroon: Peace Corps Cameroon: The Peace Corps in Cameroon: September 8, 2003 - Youngstown Vindicator: Corey Ballantyne serves in Peace Corps in the jungles of Cameroon

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 11:10 pm: Edit Post

Corey Ballantyne serves in Peace Corps in the jungles of Cameroon

Corey Ballantyne serves in Peace Corps in the jungles of Cameroon

Fitch grad serves with Peace Corps in western Africa

Her column, 'Letters from Africa,' will appear every Monday through October.



Youngstown, Ohio - Delores Kunic was taken aback at first.

Her former student at Austintown Fitch High School, Corey Ballantyne, wasn't taking the same path as many other recent college graduates.

Ballantyne, who received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh this spring, wasn't mailing out résumés to big corporations. She wasn't taking a temporary job as a restaurant server while she waited for job interviews, or moving back in with her parents.

She had made a more radical choice for her immediate future: spend two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the jungles of Cameroon, in western Africa.

"My initial reaction was surprise. It's such a daring decision," said Kunic, an English teacher at Fitch. Ballantyne told Kunic about her decision in June.

"When I thought about it, it made a lot of sense," Kunic said.

Kunic describes Ballantyne, 22, as a smart, compassionate person who is interested in the well-being of others. That compassion was the reason Kunic thought Ballantyne might make a good volunteer for the Peace Corps, an organization that works to improve the quality of life for people and communities around the world.

In a phone interview from Cameroon, Ballantyne said she's been thrilled by her Peace Corps experience so far.

"Life just got more exciting," she said.

Ballantyne spent her first weeks in the Peace Corps training to be a teacher and living with a family in Bandjoun in Cameroon's West Province.

Where curiosity led

In late August, Ballantyne spent two days traveling from Bandjoun through the jungle to Bertoua in the central region of Cameroon, where she now teaches at a bilingual high school.

Beginning Monday, Ballantyne will write a weekly column, "Letters from Africa," for The Vindicator on her experiences in Cameroon. Her column will appear every Monday through the end of October.

"If you're a curious person, it's fascinating. Everything is fascinating, the birds, the people ..." Ballantyne said of Cameroon.

Ballantyne said her curiosity led her to major in chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh after graduating from Fitch in 1999. She said she chose chemistry because she thought it would help teach her how nature works.

Ballantyne added that she enjoyed science class while at Fitch. Her mother, Kim Kengor, noted that Ballantyne never had to be told to do her homework when she was growing up.

"Corey is a straight arrow. She is a very hard-working person, extremely intelligent," Kengor said.

Ballantyne's family lived in Norway and traveled around Europe for her father's job when she was growing up. They also lived in several parts of Ohio before settling in Austintown when she was in seventh grade.

Soon after graduating from Fitch, Ballantyne spoke with a family friend who had served in the Peace Corps. She said that from then on, she knew she wanted to volunteer with the organization.

"To me, it was sort of obvious," Ballantyne said, adding that she thought the Peace Corps would give her a chance to help others while having "one hell of an adventure."

Ballantyne noted she's not sure about her long-term plans after her Peace Corps service ends, but that she's considering attending graduate school.

Kengor said she expects Ballantyne to come back from Cameroon with an understanding of how American culture compares to other cultures around the world.

"You tend to see it somewhat different when you come back," Kengor said. "The American way is not always the best and only way."

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Story Source: Youngstown Vindicator

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



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