March 4, 2004 - Rocky Mount Telegram: Kate Tharin's class recently won a free long-distance call from Philippines Peace Corps volunteer Eileen Wedel to whom they had been writing letters for the past year

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Philippines: Peace Corps Philippines: The Peace Corps in the Philippines: March 4, 2004 - Rocky Mount Telegram: Kate Tharin's class recently won a free long-distance call from Philippines Peace Corps volunteer Eileen Wedel to whom they had been writing letters for the past year

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-13-23.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.13.23) on Thursday, March 04, 2004 - 5:05 pm: Edit Post

Kate Tharin's class recently won a free long-distance call from Philippines Peace Corps volunteer Eileen Wedel to whom they had been writing letters for the past year



Kate Tharin's class recently won a free long-distance call from Philippines Peace Corps volunteer Eileen Wedel to whom they had been writing letters for the past year

Pen pal chats up RMA students
By Jaime Bender, Rocky Mount Telegram

Imagining life without computers, cars and birthday presents is virtually impossible for most American children.

But as 12 Rocky Mount Academy second-graders listened to a firsthand account of life in the tiny village of Maribojoc in the Philippines, they began to understand and appreciate the lifestyles they take for granted.

For the second consecutive year, Kate Tharin's class recently won a free long-distance call from a Peace Corps volunteer to whom they had been writing letters for the past year. The opportunity came through a worldwide contest sponsored by the Peace Corps' Washington, D.C., headquarters that chose Tharin's class out of 330 applicants.

At 9 a.m. Wednesday, Tharin's students huddled around the telephone in their classroom, waiting eagerly for the call they'd been anticipating for months. And when they heard Eileen Wedel's friendly voice through the speakerphone for the first time, they greeted her as if she had just walked in the room.

Wedel, 24, is a friend of Tharin's from their days together at Randolph-Macon Women's College in Virginia. A native of Basking Ridge, N.J., Wedel joined the Peace Corps after graduating and has been stationed in the Philippines for the past two years, living in a three-bedroom house with a family of 12.

Her job in the Philippines, she said is to work with local organizations to promote tourism. She also uses her expertise in biology, her major in college, to study plant and tree life in her village.

During her brief phone call, Wedel fielded questions from the students about her life on the impoverished island everything from what animals her host family owns to what holidays they celebrate.

Birthdays, for instance, are celebrated quite differently in Filipino culture, Wedel said. Instead of receiving presents and blowing out candles, most people actually give presents to their guests.

Also, she said, most people raise and slaughter their own animals for food, rather than buy meat at a grocery store.

Halloween is spent sleeping in graveyards, not trick-or-treating, she added. Last October, she said she spent the "day of the dead" with her host family, and she said she enjoyed the experience despite its eerie theme.

She spends most of her time cooking "fish, fish and more fish," she said. She also visits the beach frequently with her "berkata," or group of friends.

"When you went swimming in the ocean, did you get scared by any baby lemon sharks?" asked Cameron Graham, 7, who apparently shares an interest in biology with Wedel.

"No, they weren't too scary," she replied. "The sharks are more afraid of us than we are of them."

The unique culture of the Philippines has served as a valuable learning experience for Wedel, she said. But she admits she can't help feeling a little homesick sometimes.

"I miss my family and my friends and my house and seeing my parents every day," she said. "But I love seeing different countries. It's a wonderful experience."

After leaving the Philippines in May, Wedel said she'll spend about a month at her home in New Jersey. Then, she's off to Russia, where she'll serve as a chaperone for a group of traveling high school students.




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Story Source: Rocky Mount Telegram

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

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By ross bruning (uslec-66-255-134-157.cust.uslec.net - 66.255.134.157) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 2:59 pm: Edit Post

How would one get the address of eileen to send her a letter? I'm an old friend from Basking Ridge and would love to keep in touch.

By Anonymous (fg-out-f136.google.com - 72.14.220.136) on Friday, March 09, 2007 - 5:19 pm: Edit Post

eileen wedel is the best person i have ever known. she has a beautiful smile and she is very intelligent. I am proud to be her boyfriend.


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