October 5, 2003 - AFSC: Dionne Ferguson served as APCD/Administration for Peace Corps South Africa

Peace Corps Online: Directory: South Africa: Peace Corps South Africa : The Peace Corps in South Africa: October 5, 2003 - AFSC: Dionne Ferguson served as APCD/Administration for Peace Corps South Africa

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-6-140.balt.east.verizon.net - on Sunday, October 05, 2003 - 1:46 pm: Edit Post

Dionne Ferguson served as APCD/Administration for Peace Corps South Africa

Dionne Ferguson served as APCD/Administration for Peace Corps South Africa

Introducing Dionne Ferguson, Associate Regional Director

Dionne and Malaika

I am excited and ready to set out on a new journey as Associate Regional Director for the Central Region. It is an honor to work with people united in an effort towards peace and social justice for our world.

A dear friend once told me that we are a sum total of our life experiences. I grew up in St. Louis, and after high school I attended Spelman College, a HBCU (Historically Black College/University) in Atlanta. I participated in a dual degree program, majoring in Mathematics and Engineering. After three years at Spelman, I transferred to the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) to complete my degree in Civil Engineering. After graduation I returned to St. Louis and worked for the City of St. Louis Water Division for almost two years. During that time I also tutored children at a local boys? club, facilitated practice lessons for students participating in the public schools? math contest, taught public school students about the water treatment process and remained active in my church.

The seeds of travel and adventure, however, had been planted early by my mother, a frequent traveler, and my aunt, a former Peace Corps volunteer. My aunt was a volunteer in Tanzania and had the most fascinating artifacts in her home, many with stories. Frequent visits to Spelman College by Peace Corps recruiters also played a role in my later decision. I knew that I wanted to travel to Africa, and I wanted to really experience Africa. I also knew that a two-week vacation would not provide the experience I sought, but living in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer would certainly give me that experience.

With the blessings of my supervisors and friends at the Water Division, I left for Lesotho, Southern Africa to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer assigned to the Horizontal Well Drilling Project. My official title was Horizontal Well Drilling Advisor. "Advisor" meant that I had first choice of which shovel I wanted to use. I worked with two Basotho (people of Lesotho) counterparts and Villagers and their Chiefs to drill wells that provided water for human consumption and watering of gardens and livestock. Because of my assignment I had the opportunity to meet incredible people and drive my assigned Toyota pickup truck throughout the entire country. My experience exceeded my expectations by far.

Following my two-year tour, I was awarded a fellowship at Peace Corps Headquarters and gained experience in many departments within the Washington, DC office. After a year in the DC office, I was assigned to Zimbabwe, where I lived and worked in Harare, serving as the Associate Peace Corps Director for Administration (APCD/Administration). In that position, I was responsible for administrative, personnel and financial management. I also served as advisor to the volunteer Diversity Group.

My greatest treasure

Following my tour in Zimbabwe, I headed south where I served as APCD/Administration for Peace Corps South Africa. It involved working with South Africans of different cultures, languages and socio-economic backgrounds. It was a terrific learning experience. However, my greatest treasure from South Africa is my daughter, Malaika Tinashe. Malaika is a Swahili (East African) name which means "My Angel" and Tinashe is a Shona (Zimbabwean) name which means "We are with God." At the end of my tour with Peace Corps, Malaika and I returned to St. Louis to be greeted by loving grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I stayed at home with Malaika for several months and then began working in East St. Louis, Illinois. Most recently I served as Assistant Director for the Economic Recovery Model Project, sponsored by the Greater East St. Louis Chamber of Commerce with a funding grant from the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Community Affairs. The project?s goal was to create demonstration models which showed that the economic revitalization of East St. Louis is possible through collaborative efforts of citizens, community and regional organizations, business owners and city governments. Several business cooperatives were formed and community campaigns were launched. I also served as the coordinator for the two-day Economic Recovery Conference which concluded the project.

While I remember my dear friend?s words--"We are a sum total of our life experiences"--I believe and have added to that: "...and our past experiences guide us to our future experiences." I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I am thrilled to make the move to Des Moines and add my contribution to the thoughts, ideas and actions of the AFSC-Central Region.

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Story Source: AFSC

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



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