February 22, 2004 - Daily Citizen-News: Students meet pen pal, Honduras Peace Corps volunteer Amber Davis

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Honduras: Peace Corps Honduras: The Peace Corps in Honduras: February 22, 2004 - Daily Citizen-News: Students meet pen pal, Honduras Peace Corps volunteer Amber Davis

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Students meet pen pal, Honduras Peace Corps volunteer Amber Davis

Students meet pen pal, Honduras Peace Corps volunteer Amber Davis

Eton students meet pen pal, a Peace Corps volunteer

By: Shannon Bielcik, The Daily Citizen February 22, 2004

ETON - The third-grade class at Eton Elementary has a special guest. They've written to her for a year, and even sent a "friend" through the mail, over thousands of miles of land and sea, to visit her.

"How is Stanley?" asks Amber Davis, daughter of Eton's principal, Joe Davis.

"He's fine," class members say.

Amber Davis, a Chatsworth native, was the class's pen pal during her two-year stay in Honduras as a Peace Corps volunteer.

"Stanley" is a character from author Jeff Brown's "Flat Stanley." In the book, Stanley is knocked flat by a bulletin board and his parents are able to send him places through the mail.

Sarah Smith's class created a Stanley cutout and mailed it to Davis in Honduras. Pictures of Stanley and Davis were taken in different places, and the pictures were sent back to the class.

Unfortunately, Stanley was attacked by a parrot while having one picture made. Smith pulled Stanley out of a file cabinet to show the bite.

Adam Massengill, the student who won a clay whistle from Honduras for answering the most questions from Davis' presentation, said he enjoyed writing to her.

"We all wrote her letters," he said with a big smile.

Davis gave the class a rigorous review of Honduran language, culture and geography. She brought carved wooden masks and "lempira," the country's currency.

The students were very interested in Davis' experience and asked several questions.

"Are lizards popular?"

"Did you have a bathroom?"

"The bathroom was outside my house. And lizards aren't popular as pets, but there are lots of them, and snakes too. Even in my house," Davis said with a smile.

Living for two years in an adobe house, among 1,500 people who didn't speak her language, was "the most challenging and rewarding thing I've ever done," Davis said.

Davis is a graduate of Murray County High School and received her bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia. She joined the Peace Corps in 2002 after graduating with a master's degree from UGA in agricultural education.

The Peace Corps is a government agency dedicated to sending volunteers to host countries to assist with education, health care and agricultural improvement.

San Pedro De Tutle in Honduras was Davis' chosen destination, and where she served as an agricultural instructor.

"I did nutrition work with families, helped with their gardens, participated in reforestation projects and soil conservation projects," she said.

Davis said joining the Peace Corps was a natural choice.

"I lived in Costa Rica for two semesters as an undergraduate, and knew people involved there in the Peace Corps," she said. Davis also spent time in Brazil during college.

After graduating from UGA, Davis "followed up with a Peace Corps recruiter."

That resulted in "three months of intense training in (Honduran) language and culture."

Davis was the only English speaker in her region, and necessity forced her to become proficient in the local language.

"I went to Honduras as an intermediate Spanish speaker and came back advanced," she said.

Davis decided to exchange letters with Smith's class because she and Smith had gone to school together.

"Sarah's class was participating in a pen pal program called World Wide Schools. We exchanged letters every six to eight weeks, since it took that long for the letters to arrive."

The class didn't write just a single letter.

"Sometimes every student would write," Davis said, laughing.

She said one of the most touching experiences of her stay happened right before she returned to the United States.

"One of the families I had been working with lived in a hut made out of mud and sticks. As a gift, they gave me four eggs, a chicken and a bag of beans. And these were people with no money and no running water."

Now that her term is finished, Davis has found another way to spend her time.

"The Environmental Protection Agency called my adviser at UGA when I was still in Honduras, looking for someone who was Spanish speaking and had an agricultural degree.

"I think I was the only one he could think of with both qualifications," Davis said.

Davis interviewed at Christmas, and will begin work with the EPA in Atlanta on Monday.

"I'll be a life scientist, working with migrant workers with pesticide safety and the promotion of organic farms," she said.

©Daily Citizen 2004

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Story Source: Daily Citizen-News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Honduras; Third Goal; World Wise Schools



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