|By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-178-137.balt.east.verizon.net - 188.8.131.52) on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 5:08 pm: Edit Post|
Sidney Fey, Jr. has joined the Peace Corps and will leave for his assignment in Mongolia on June 8
Sidney Fey, Jr. has joined the Peace Corps and will leave for his assignment in Mongolia on June 8
Fey joins the Peace Corps
By DEB FOWLKS
Sidney Fey, Jr., a graduate of Avon High School, and a senior at St. Louis University, has joined the Peace Corps and will leave for his assignment June 8. Fey worked last summer as a staff writer at the Avon Sentinel and the Abingdon Argus. He is the son of the late Sidney Fey, Sr., and Linda and Harold Smith. He participated in an e-mail interview and what follows are his answers.
Q. What exactly is the Peace Corps?
S.F.-The Peace Corps is a nonprofit governmental organization that was started by former U.S. President John Kennedy in 1961 to give those who didn’t want to join the military, but wanted to serve their country, a chance to provide services overseas to countries requesting it. There are basically four sections of service that the Peace Corps offers to foreign countries (who must A.) be recognized as countries by the United States, B.) request Peace Corps involvement in their country, C.) be relatively stable and safe for volunteers): teaching, which is predominately the teaching of the English language to both students and teachers themselves who may not have received adequate training (though there are other areas of education taught, such as AIDS prevention and education and community development; both of which I will be teaching as well in addition to English); agriculture, which may encompass the teaching of community leaders on how to properly irrigate, crop rotations, fisheries; skills we take for granted, especially in a rural farming area; health, which is mostly nursing; and economic and civil development, which may be town engineering, road construction and planning, and architectural design of new buildings.
Q. How did the idea of joining the Peace Corps become tangible to you?
S.F.-I first thought about the Peace Corps during my sophomore year of high school. I had been thinking about my future and what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I would of course go to college, that much was expected, but what I did afterward was completely up to me. I thought about it more and more, and I realized that I didn’t want to go into the work force immediately after my college graduation, and I explored my options. One thing that I didn’t really have the opportunity to do was explore service projects and helping others, which is part of the reason why I joined a service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, my junior year at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Mo. I thought more about it, and decided that I would do some form of service after graduating, since that would be the one time in my life that I wouldn’t have the daily demands and responsibilities of a mortgage, car payment or job. I looked at the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and a variety of other religiously-affiliated service organizations, but those did not appeal to me. I wanted a longer commitment than one year and I wanted to go overseas, and both of those elements were offered by the Peace Corps.
Q. What kind of process is involved in joining the Peace Corps?
S.F.-It is a long and drawn-out process to join the Peace Corps. The first step is a 17-page application that requests a updated resume, college transcript for those just graduating and three references. After that stage, potential volunteers must undergo a physical and dental exam, as well as numerous inoculations. There is also an interview with a regional recruiter, who then nominates a potential volunteer, which basically means that the government is willing to spend the money to have the potential volunteer medically tested and cleared. After all the medical stages are complete, a volunteer is then invited to partake in an assignment, which entails the specific duty, country and departure date for a volunteer. I returned from a Spring Break trip to Mexico last Friday night to find a message on my answering machine from my mom telling me that I had received a package from the Peace Corps to my home in Abingdon. I called her immediately and she read me the contents, which was my invitation to serve in the program departing June 8, 2004, to teach English, AIDS education and prevention and community development in Mongolia.
Q. Where are you going to be located?
S.F.-When I first arrive in Mongolia, I will undergo three months of training in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of the country. During the day I will be enrolled in courses over the language and the culture with the other volunteers who will serve in Mongolia with me. I will live with a host family during the training time in order to help me work on my language skills. Afterward, I will be relocated to a more remote region to work at a local high school as a full-time teacher. Mongolia is located north of China and south of Russia. It is about the size of Alaska and has about two million people total. It is very mountainous and, even though it is located roughly on the same latitude as the Midwest, due to its elevation the temperature is usually 20 degrees colder than whatever weather we have here. It is sometimes called “the country of blue skies” since it rarely rains in the south and central areas of the country (the Gobi desert is located in southern Mongolia). The northern region receives plenty of rainfall and is said to be one of the most unblemished and natural forested areas in the world. The country is mostly Tibetan Buddhist (there are still numerous working temples complete with monks who live and worship there) and gained its freedom from China in 1921. It has a Parliamentarian government and is a stable and “sleepy” country (called so by an online Web site the Peace Corps directed me to). You can go to www.countrywatch.com and click on Mongolia for more information.
Q. When are you leaving?
S.F.-I fly to Washington D.C. on June 8, and then fly to Ulaanbaatar on June 10. On August 28, 2004, my training is complete and I will receive my final assignment. Thus, I return to the United States on August 28, 2006.
Q. What will your duties include once you reach your destination of service?
S.F.-I will primarily be teaching English; I am expected to perform all of the same duties as any regular teacher; working 40 hours a week, attend staff meetings, create lesson plans, administer tests and assign homework. In addition to that, I will also be helping other local teachers progress in their English language, since many of them received little or limited English instruction themselves. I will also be teaching members of the community about AIDS and HIV as well as promoting volunteerism and community development.
Q. You are graduating from SLU this Spring, how do you feel about this new chapter in your life that you are preparing to embark on?
S.F.-When I received the package Mom forwarded me, the package with my confirmation invitation, I had also received information about commencement ceremony. I walked through my student union with my Peace Corps assignment in one hand, and a brochure detailing the specifics about my college graduation in the other hand; it dawned on me that I was essentially holding my future. I am very excited about my involvement with the Peace Corps, though I am, of course, nervous about this as well. I feel as though I was meant to make this transition, and feel confident of my choices, regardless of whatever anxiety I may have.
Q. How are you preparing for this?
S.F.-I started a journal that I intend to use to chronicle my time overseas. I also am making sure to talk about my thoughts and concerns, both with family and friends as well as Peace Corps staff who have made sure that I, along with all future volunteers, deal with our emotions head on instead of ignoring them.
Q. What will you miss most about home?
S.F.-It sounds awful, but instead of missing the things that most would expect, such as family, friends and the life that I once led, I am more concerned about missing my creature comforts such as Mountain Dew, my Ford Explorer and some more of the very trivial aspects of life.
Q. What are you most looking forward to?
A. I cannot wait to live overseas and travel. One of the perks of service is that I receive four weeks of vacation per year, which enables me to travel far more than I normally would. I fully intend to visit Japan, Russia, China and Vietnam while I serve in Mongolia. I hope to be able to spend my 23rd birthday in Hong Kong or Tokyo.
Q. Once your obligations to the Peace Corps have concluded, what do your plans include?
S.F.-When I return in 2006 I hope to have a career doing public relations for a government agency. My ideal employer would be the State Department, though odds are that I could work for any agency for a few years and transfer over. I have a better chance of getting a government job after serving in the Peace Corps; some positions, such as the Peace Corps administration, are only open to returned volunteers. As far as where I would be living, I would prefer to live in either Chicago or Washington D.C., though I really have no idea where I will end up.
|By Douglas C. Smith (41.newark-14rh15-16rt.nj.dial-access.att.net - 184.108.40.206) on Friday, April 16, 2004 - 12:22 pm: Edit Post|
You and I are about to partake on the same journey. I too am going with the Peace Corps to Mongolia in June with the TEFL program. My assignment, in addition to teaching the students English will be to instruct educators in English as well.
I was born and raised outside Philadelphia but also love St. Louis. I have been a Latin teacher in high school and middle school for four years. I had and still have a great love of teaching and the subject; but I found certain students to be difficult to teach. I am looking forward to the assistance the peace corps will give in that area. I have spent the last 4 years as a web specialist working for major publication companies both here in Philly and St. Louis. Unfortunately, the market dried up for computer jobs and I was looking for a new change. I realized the possibilities were endless and decided that I wanted to get involved in service work. A friend of mine was in the Peace Corps and I started to apply and finished the application. I was called for an interview and the next day was informed of my assignment in Asia. A month later I found out it was Mongolia.
Since that time, I have been amazed by the connections that I have been able to make in Mongolia. I found that friends at my church have taught English there. Professors at Penn have been able to talk with me and even distant family members live there. They have basically told me the same things: Dress in layers, boil the water first, and be careful in Ulaan Batar of thieves. The rest is just something that I have to experience first hand.
This should be an incredible journey that only happens once and a lifetime. I look forward to meeting you and learning about your experiences.
Douglas C. Smith