March 18, 2002 - Lansing State Journal: Mongolia RPCV Alina Campana praised for her work in Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mongolia: Peace Corps Mongolia : The Peace Corps in Mongolia: March 18, 2002 - Lansing State Journal: Mongolia RPCV Alina Campana praised for her work in Peace Corps

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Mongolia RPCV Alina Campana praised for her work in Peace Corps

Mongolia RPCV Alina Campana praised for her work in Peace Corps

Lansing native honored in Mongolia English teacher gets praise for her work in the Peace Corps

By James McCurtis Jr. Lansing State Journal

Peace Corps volunteer Alina Campana has become quite the celebrity during her 21 months in Mongolia.

The 23-year-old Lansing native was featured in a 30-minute documentary in February that was televised nationally in the Asian country.

"Today," one of the country's largest newspapers, selected her as one of the 100 best people in Mongolia. She was among only four foreigners selected.

Campana has even received fan mail from people near Bulgan Soum, the small village in the province of Arkhangai where she teaches children how to speak English. The official language there is Khalkha Mongol.

"This is very special and unique," said Scot Roskelley, a Peace Corps spokesman. "Receiving that kind of countryside recognition doesn't happen too often."

Mongolia is a country in northern Asia tucked between China and Russia. It has a population of 2.6 million people.

Campana couldn't be reached for comment. The Everett High School graduate is expected to complete her two years in the Peace Corps in June.

Being a Peace Corps volunteer runs in Campana's blood. Her parents, Jim and Gail Campana, were corps volunteers in South Korea in the late 1960s and early '70s.

The Peace Corps is an international volunteer organization that serves 140 countries. President Kennedy started the organization in 1961.

After she graduated from Wellesley College near Boston in 1999, Campana left for Mongolia in June 2000.

Before she left, she spoke with her mother extensively about the Peace Corps.

"It's quite wonderful the way the Mongolian people responded openly and warmly to what she's done," Gail Campana said. "The way that they have embraced her is a testament to her humanity."

Ken Heldenfels, the country director for Peace Corps Mongolia, said Campana's interactions with her students has stimulated their desire to learn.

She has taken her students through the countryside to learn English through the use of all the senses, Heldenfels said.

She uses her talent as an artist and violinist to keep students motivated as well.

But the experience hasn't always been fun and easy, Heldenfels said in an e-mail.

Campana had to learn a difficult language, integrate with a different culture and become a skilled fire-starter to provide heat for extremely cold winters inside her yurt, a traditional felt-covered tent.

In the winter, where the temperature sometimes sinks to 40 below zero, she has to drill a hole in an ice-covered stream to get water.

"I'm proud of what she's doing in the Peace Corps," said Jim Campana. "She had a desire to give back and help people who are less fortunate than herself. And she wanted to see the world."

Contact James McCurtis Jr. at 377- 1046 or

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Story Source: Lansing State Journal

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



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