January 28, 2004 - Roanoke Times: Peace Corps volunteer Taylor Beauregard brings aid to Paraguay

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Paraguay: Peace Corps Paraguay: The Peace Corps in Paraguay: January 28, 2004 - Roanoke Times: Peace Corps volunteer Taylor Beauregard brings aid to Paraguay

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Peace Corps volunteer Taylor Beauregard brings aid to Paraguay

Peace Corps volunteer Taylor Beauregard brings aid to Paraguay

Peace Corps volunteer brings aid to 'nowhere'

Taylor Beauregard is a small woman with light brown hair and a clear view of what she is getting into. Monday morning, Beauregard flew from Roanoke to Pittsburgh and then to Miami to meet other new members of the Peace Corps. Monday, she left for a two-year assignment as a rural health worker in Paraguay.

Writer P.J. O'Rourke once described Paraguay as "nowhere and famous for nothing."

But when he visited the country, he liked it.

Beauregard wants to like it, too. "I'm just eager," she said last week at a coffee shop in Salem. "I want to open myself up to the experience ... I want to do anything I can."

Beauregard, 26, showed early interest in the Peace Corps. She wrote a letter to the agency to fulfill a school assignment in sixth grade.

"I said hello," she said.

A year or so later, she and her parents took a vacation to Washington, D.C., from their small town in New Hampshire. They stopped by the Peace Corps offices, saw Taylor's letter posted on a wall and posed for pictures. Taylor even got to talk to the director, who was out of town, on the telephone.

Deliberate pace

Then the Peace Corps went on a back burner. Beauregard enrolled at Roanoke College, where she majored in international relations. She earned a master of arts in liberal studies degree from Hollins. Her thesis involved international adoptions.

She worked for a while at Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea on Starkey Road, and became a customer service supervisor for USAir Express at Roanoke Regional Airport. She checked in passengers, guided planes to their parking spots and managed co-workers more than twice her age.

She applied for the Peace Corps, went through all the qualification procedures and waited - and waited, and waited.

Finally, she was accepted, and at 4:45 Monday morning, her parents, Ted and Debra Beauregard - who moved to Buchanan a few years ago - delivered her to the airport.

She is their only child, and they will miss her.

The world seems more dangerous than it did in 1961, when the Peace Corps began with a mission to offer help to developing countries and foster understanding between Americans and other cultures.

The work can be scary and even dangerous, yet volunteers - 7,500 are serving at the moment - continue to sign up. Since the beginning, 170,000 volunteers have worked in 137 countries. Their efforts to promote health, education, the environment, business development, agriculture and youth signify an unquenchable idealism as important today as it ever was.

The discovery begins

Beauregard doesn't know where she'll be stationed in Paraguay, which is surrounded by Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil, or what her job will be. She has spoken and exchanged e-mails with former volunteers whose tasks ranged from promoting dental health to helping deliver a baby.

She hopes to be stationed near a populated area rather than the arid wilderness known as the Chaco.

"I hope I'll be near another volunteer," she said.

And she expects to learn a lot about the isolated country, which has a brutal past and vivid culture. Ninety-five percent of the population is mestizo, or a mix of Spanish and Amerindian backgrounds. They speak Spanish and Guarani, the language of the semi-nomadic people who originally populated eastern Paraguay.

Beauregard likes getting deeply involved in her activities and handling a lot of responsibilities.

"She was very easy to work with," said Charles Jones, 57, whom she supervised at the airport. "She knows how to get along with people."

That made Beauregard smile.

"Let's check on me in about a year," she said, "and we'll see if I'm doing something good."

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Story Source: Roanoke Times

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



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