August 29, 2004: Headlines: COS - Haiti: Sunday News Lancaster: Katie Jens was Peace Corps Volunteer in Haiti

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Haiti: Peace Corps Haiti : The Peace Corps in Haiti: August 29, 2004: Headlines: COS - Haiti: Sunday News Lancaster: Katie Jens was Peace Corps Volunteer in Haiti

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, November 21, 2004 - 4:12 pm: Edit Post

Katie Jens was Peace Corps Volunteer in Haiti

 Katie Jens was Peace Corps Volunteer in Haiti

Katie Jens was Peace Corps Volunteer in Haiti

Katie Jens keeps things in balance
Aug 29, 2004

Sunday News Lancaster, PA

by Maria Coole Running through the airport to catch a flight home at Christmastime last year, Katie Jens drew stares as she balanced a box of five bottles of Haitian rum and a carry-on bag on her head.

But she got just as many stares in Haiti, where she was a volunteer for 18 months, when she tried to carry a 5-gallon bucket of water by hand.

The huge cultural shifts don't seem to faze the adventuresome 25- year-old.

She gradually learned to carry a 5-gallon bucket of water on her head, after first practicing with books and then a 1-gallon bucket.

While teaching about basic gardening and health in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Jens got used to having no electricity after 7 p.m. and no running water.

Ironically, it was living with no electricity in Haiti that turned Jens into a reader. There was nothing else to do, so she listened to the British Broadcasting Corp. on a shortwave radio or read by kerosene lantern.

Back in Lancaster County, her can-do attitude got her a job as a community development specialist for Keep Lancaster Beautiful.

She is guiding a pilot project, along with some block captains in a portion of the city's southwest, that includes neighborhood enhancement and actions to stop littering.

Jens, of Old Blue Rock Road, Millersville, sees a parallel between working in Haiti and working with Lancaster neighborhoods in that both involve "trying to encourage people to take grassroots action to improve their communities,'' she said.

Family: Father, Kurt; mother, Nora; siblings, Dave, Will and Nora.

Education: Lancaster Catholic High School; and earned a bachelor's degree in history from Millersville University.

Birthplace: Providence, R.I.

My first job: Stable hand for a Maryland horse farm.

My parents always told me: That I have big thumbs.

Someone who has influenced my life: The people in my Peace Corps site in northeast Haiti, who never let their hardships damper their sense of humor and their spirit.

The best thing about my job: Working with people who are passionate about enacting change in their neighborhoods.

The toughest part of my job: The tediousness of researching grant sources.

A person I admire: Everyone in my family. My father for his intelligence and wisdom; my mom for her warmth and empathy; Dave for his strength of character; Will for his genuine kindness; and Nora for her contagious happiness.

My unfulfilled ambition: To see a bear; to find an arrowhead; and to catch a salmon.

One thing I've learned is: It's actually easier to carry heavy things on your head, but not so great for your neck.

One cause I support wholeheartedly: Keep Lancaster Beautiful. And programs promoting health education in developing countries and providing health care to people unable to afford it, such as Dr. Paul Farmer and Partners in Health.

What I'd like to get around to doing one of these days: Washing my laundry.

I always try to avoid: Doing laundry.

The music I like best: Uncle Tupelo; John Denver; and Slim Fit, an amazing local band of talented musicians with great beards.

My favorite movies: "The Nightmare Before Christmas"; any Wes Anderson movie; "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

My favorite books: "Siddhartha'' by Herman Hesse; "The Brothers Karamazov" by Dostoevsky; "Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer; and anything by Roald Dahl, especially "The Twits'' and "The BFG."

My favorite entertainer: Chevy Chase, circa 1980; Bill Murray.

My favorite television programs: "The Simpsons" and "The Family Guy."

My hobbies include: Kayaking, making pottery, gardening, backpacking and knitting.

My pets include: Two dogs, Sonja and Ruger; two cats, Annapurna and Charlotte; and three cichlids (fish).

My favorite foods: Maine lobster; my mom's sour cream mashed potatoes; sushi; and anything made with cilantro.

Things that can always be found in my refrigerator: Skim milk; chocolate syrup; and veggies from Homefields (organic co-op farm on Letort Road) that I haven't gotten around to eating. But never, ever baby corn.

My favorite restaurant: Either The Belvedere Inn or El Serrano.

What makes me laugh: My friends, old Saturday Night Live episodes and being tickled.

My idea of a good time: Spending the day in Pequea hiking and tubing, then ending up at Dad's Place.

My idea of exercise: Running, kayaking the Susquehanna and hiking Kelly's Run.

My favorite quote: A lyric from a local band called Stand Up, "I'd like to take away your voice; then you'd do instead of talk of doing."

Favorite Lancaster County tourist attraction: The Pinnacle.

When I really want to relax, I: Grab my Discman and kayak on the Little Conestoga.

My greatest accomplishment: Building an elementary school in northeast Haiti.

My greatest disappointment: Never learning to play the guitar.

My favorite extravagance: Plane tickets.

My favorite vacation spot: Midcoast Maine.

My secret vice: Beef jerky.

The car I drive: A blue Volkswagen Beetle.

The car I would like to drive: Nothing, I hate driving!

A gadget I couldn't live without: My Discman.

People may be surprised to know that I: Have a morbid fear of sharks and took miming classes.

If I could have a one-month, all-expense-paid trip to anywhere in the world, I would go to: Chile and Argentina to explore Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, then hop over to Bhutan and later hike the Annapurna circuit in Nepal.

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Story Source: Sunday News Lancaster

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



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