December 13, 2004: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: COS - Sri Lanka: COS - Nepal: Election Observers: The Sentinel: RPCV Kathy Bonnifield to observe elections in Ukraine

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ukraine: Peace Corps Ukraine : The Peace Corps in the Ukraine: December 13, 2004: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: COS - Sri Lanka: COS - Nepal: Election Observers: The Sentinel: RPCV Kathy Bonnifield to observe elections in Ukraine

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RPCV Kathy Bonnifield to observe elections in Ukraine

RPCV Kathy Bonnifield to observe elections in Ukraine

RPCV Kathy Bonnifield to observe elections in Ukraine

NUHS grad affects world politics
Kathy Bonnifield
to observe elections
in Ukraine


Journal Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- A woman with New Ulm ties who decided as a teenager to make a difference in world politics and human rights after a foreign exchange visit is doing just that.

Kathy Bonnifield of Minneapolis, the daughter of Mary Lou Bonnifield of New Ulm, studied in Turkey as an AFS student during her senior year of high school.

Next week, she will travel to the Ukraine for a week-long stay. She'll observe political elections as one of about 100 representatives of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).

After earning a degree in geology from Gustavus Adolphus College, Bonnifield, a 1990 NUHS graduate, traveled to Changchun in northeast China to teach English. She stayed a year.

"I was just starting to understand China, but thought I needed language lessons. so I joined the Peace Corps and went to Sri Lanka," Bonnifield said. "There, I learned the language and culture and taught within the context of it."

When a civil war heated up in Sri Lank, Bonnifield moved to Nepal. She lived in two villages for two years.

She recently traveled to Ankara, Turkey to participate in the International Symposium on Torture. There, she learned about new human rights tactics in a country known for its poor human rights record.

At the symposium, Turkish government officials were educated on human rights. Participants learned how action plans can prevent human rights violations.

In India, a Human Rights Law Network created the Indian People's Tribunal to promote justice and mobilize victims of human rights abuses. Since 1993, the group conducted 24 tribunals on issues ranging from police violence and the right to food and housing.

"Lots of sharing helped us learn how to stop and deal with human rights violations," Bonnifield said. "When people are tortured, they need to heal to get over their post-traumatic stress syndrome disorder."

In the U.S. alone, there are 20 torture treatment centers.

Last March, she observed the Russian presidential election for OSCE. In order to prevent bias, she worked with a partner from another country. Assisted by interpreters and drivers, both workers observed the election wherever ballot boxes were located, including prisons.

If they noticed anything questionable, OCSE observers would discuss it and decide if it should be reported.

Bonnifield said she didn't notice any violations but that some observers noticed ballot box stuffing. Findings of about 300 observers, including 30 Americans, were reported at large press conferences designed to create fair and balanced reporting of what the observers witnessed.

Bonnifield said the Russians were very friendly to her.

"It was a party atmosphere with everybody singing and dancing during the elections," Bonnifield said. "We talked freely with them. They knew what we were doing and were happy that we were there."

She now works as a consultant for a new, non-profit organization, Gross Injustice.

Bonnifield credited her NUHS teachers for encouraging her foreign exchange visit to Turkey.

She encouraged high school students not to be afraid to try to make a difference in the world.

"I was very lucky to have such encouraging high school teachers in New Ulm. I am still in touch with some of them," Bonnifield said. "Without their help, I would not have been able to do what I did. Anyone can make a difference in the world if they want to."

(Fritz Busch can be reached at

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.

December 25, 2004: This Week's Top Stories Date: December 26 2004 No: 346 December 25, 2004: This Week's Top Stories
Soldiers of Peace 23 Dec
Nepal RPCV discovers new species of catfish 23 Dec
Tom Murphy will not seek 4th term as Pittsburgh mayor 22 Dec
Richard Celeste is spicing things up 22 Dec
Gov. Jim Doyle streamlines state government 22 Dec
Namibia Volunteers sworn in 21 Dec
RPCV serves as Ukraine election observer 21 Dec
Christmas Gifts for Peace Corps Volunteers 21 Dec
Estonia RPCV John Isles wins NEA poetry award 21 Dec
Director Vasquez decries racism and discrimination 20 Dec
RPCV criticizes "harrassment by Russian government" 20 Dec
War's horrors turn RPCV's son into pacifist 19 Dec
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Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: The Sentinel

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ukraine; COS - Sri Lanka; COS - Nepal; Election Observers



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