February 12, 1997 - PA Weekly: Ronald Wietecha joins first Peace Corps team to South Africa

Peace Corps Online: Directory: South Africa: Peace Corps South Africa : The Peace Corps in South Africa: February 12, 1997 - PA Weekly: Ronald Wietecha joins first Peace Corps team to South Africa

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-6-140.balt.east.verizon.net - on Sunday, October 05, 2003 - 1:44 pm: Edit Post

Ronald Wietecha joins first Peace Corps team to South Africa

Ronald Wietecha joins first Peace Corps team to South Africa

Local man joins first Peace Corps team to South Africa

Stanford grad will leave tomorrow to work in the Northern Province

Tomorrow, Ronald Wietecha and 32 other volunteers will leave for South Africa, representing a promise made between heads of state more than two years ago.

When Presidents Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton met in October 1994, they pledged they would form a partnership to unite the still-divided society of the new, apartheid-free South Africa.

Wietecha, who received his master's from Stanford in 1994, will be helping to meet that goal as part of the first Peace Corps team ever allowed in South Africa. He will be helping South African teachers with their curriculum development and training for the next two years.

Wietecha and the other volunteers will get an official send-off from The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan on Thursday in an afternoon ceremony at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Each member of the team will be matched with a rural school in the Northern Province, the site of South Africa's former homelands, where blacks were forced to live under apartheid. Peace Corps officials say the government adopted an official policy of neglect toward the region, and help is badly needed to develop the area's infrastructure.

Wietecha, who goes by the name "Ro," was excited about the offer, which came in November.

"I didn't want to just make a decision right away," said Wietecha, 26, who earned a bachelor's degree in human biology at Stanford in 1993 before earning his master's in secondary education. "It wasn't just a decision about the location only, it was also a decision about whether I wanted to join the Peace Corps."

Wietecha didn't have to look far for an example of how the Peace Corps affects its volunteers. His mother served in Ethiopia 30 years ago.

"I see how it definitely has made her into the person that she is and that is something that I would like to be a part of and that I would like to try," said Wietecha.

When he returns from South Africa, Wietecha plans to apply to a doctoral program in education. He felt he had to consider whether joining the Peace Corps would be a "good stepping stone" from teaching high school to becoming a doctoral student.

After getting has master's degree from the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), Wietecha, a native of Park Ridge, Ill., took a job as a ninth-grade teacher and girls junior varsity soccer coach at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale for the 1994-95 school year.

The next year he taught physics and chemistry to freshmen at Burlingame High School. He also taught sex education, for which he was well prepared, having worked as a peer counselor at Stanford's Sexual Health Peer Resource Center in his student days.

Teaching sex education to South African youth is just one of Wietecha's ideas for the community project all Peace Corps volunteers must embark upon after they've found their feet in their host communities.

He said the quarter he spent in Poland while an undergraduate at Stanford has prepared him for this trip.

"I have an idea of what it takes to establish yourself and establish a happy life for yourself pretty much anywhere," he said.

There are currently 39 Stanford graduates serving as Peace Corps volunteers, Peace Corps officials said.

Elisabeth Traugott

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: PA Weekly

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



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.