February 28, 2003: Headlines: COS - Turkmenistan: PCVs in the Field - Turkmenistan: Speaking Out: The Baxter Bulletin: PCV Kyle Dietrich grows to embrace and respect Turkmenistan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Turkmenistan: Peace Corps Turkmenistan : The Peace Corps in Turkmenistan: February 28, 2003: Headlines: COS - Turkmenistan: PCVs in the Field - Turkmenistan: Speaking Out: The Baxter Bulletin: PCV Kyle Dietrich grows to embrace and respect Turkmenistan

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PCV Kyle Dietrich grows to embrace and respect Turkmenistan

PCV Kyle Dietrich grows to embrace and respect Turkmenistan

HOPE: Volunteerism in the 21st Century

MH native tells Peace Corps story

Special to The Bulletin
". . .The world is all messed up . . . . Trouble is in the land. Confusion is all around... But I know somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars." (Martin Luther King, Memphis -- the night before his assassination in 1968)

I must honestly say that while I currently sit on a geographical axis near a troubled Middle East, I feel little tension or ill will toward my presence. Perhaps this is because I am here voluntarily, carrying out the work not of my current government's foreign policy, but the work of my country's humanistic core and, more importantly, the work of my heart and the calling that captures many of us at some point in our lives.

In my young life's search for work that complements and challenges my own convictions, and my desire to make a difference, the Peace Corps is what I have chosen. And it is the Peace Corps that has allowed me to become part of a country and a people that I have quickly grown to embrace and respect -- the Central Asian country of Turkmenistan.

Aside from its southern neighbors, namely Iran and Afghanistan, Turkmenistan has its own problems. In many ways the country's people are struggling to see the light of the 21st century. Education is regressing, jobs are disappearing, freedom continues to be illusive, and opposition to the governing president raises questions of security and the future of the country.

In short, the presence of the outside world isn't, in fact, always visible here.

Moreover, the curious thing is that, after five months in-country, my own objectivity is wearing away, and I'm beginning to see things as Turkmen see them. I'm beginning to share in that confused and complacently settled feeling, particularly towards change and progress in my own work as a teacher.

The difference is Turkmen people haven't been afforded the same luxury of displacement or objectivity, only aging ideas of the "better times" under the Soviet Union.

Hence my current dilemma: to maintain the commitment and compassion that brought me here and assimilate without adapting all local notions of progress and contentment. This, in a sense, brings me back to my beginning. In a world where hate seems oftentimes more visible than love, I wonder what we might see if we stop and acknowledge some of the unknown miracle workers and mini-saints living and making a difference in their lives, as we live ours.

Dr. King in his time made so many statements that will surely -- many, unfortunately -- hold true for eternity. Only in dark times do we have the luxury of seeing all the brilliant stars working around us -- for seemingly insurmountable tasks and against the paralyzed will of many -- to simply leave the world in better shape than they found it.

I am one voice among thousands that made simple decision after simple decision to serve this world instead of insisting that it serve me. It is my most recent decision that brings me to my current role as a Peace Corps volunteer.

From here, it seems to me many people need to remind themselves that the world isn't all bad, and that caring organizations, of which the Peace Corps is only one, are present in almost every country in the world.

We are not negotiating deals of global peace or international business. Instead we are working with the individuals who live great lives for the betterment of their families and communities, yet who usually go unnoticed, and unaccounted for. It is for and with these dignified people that we voluntarily give two years of our lives. The exchange of life, culture, language, and hope is almost beyond words, but we continue on with what we came here to do and are for this reason welcomed not as demanding westerners, but as warm guests, and friends.

We took the biggest step simply coming here and everyday face the reality of that decision. Yet, it is in that simple decision that our lives transform. If we could all be so fortunate to have such options in our lifetimes, would the world itself not resemble more that which we all know in our hearts and see in our dreams?

In honor of JFK, creator of the Peace Corps, and all Peace Corps Volunteers past, present, and future, let us continue.

Kyle Dietrich, originally from Mountain Home, is currently serving in Turkmenistan with the Peace Corps.

When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: The Baxter Bulletin

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Turkmenistan; PCVs in the Field - Turkmenistan; Speaking Out



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