January 7, 2005: Headlines: COS - Bulgaria: Jackson Clarion Ledger: Peace Corps Volunteer Genevieve Garrett is working with a youth development program in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Bulgaria: Peace Corps Bulgaria: The Peace Corps in Bulgaria: January 7, 2005: Headlines: COS - Bulgaria: Jackson Clarion Ledger: Peace Corps Volunteer Genevieve Garrett is working with a youth development program in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria

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Peace Corps Volunteer Genevieve Garrett is working with a youth development program in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria

Peace Corps Volunteer Genevieve Garrett is  working with a youth development program in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria

Peace Corps Volunteer Genevieve Garrett is working with a youth development program in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria

Committed to the corps

# Florence woman, 25, fulfills lifelong dream of helping others

By Erin Puryear
The Rankin Ledger

At age 12, Genevieve Garrett worked beside Mother Teresa in India.

Today, the Florence High graduate is serving halfway around the world again, answering a call to duty she's heard all her life.

The 25-year-old joined the Peace Corps after finishing college and is now working with a youth development program in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria.

"I've always wanted to join," she said of the Peace Corps. "It's just something I always knew I wanted to do."

Garrett is home for the first time since her service began in August 2003. She will spend part of her three weeks home speaking at Florence Elementary and at the Piney Woods School about the Peace Corps before returning to Bulgaria on Jan. 13.

Garrett had heard stories of other people's experiences in the Peace Corps before signing up, but she said she still had no idea what to expect.

"I was thrilled to death when she said that's what she wanted to do," said her mother, Kay. "We tried to give her a different world view growing up."

That world view included living abroad for five years. Garrett's family relocated to Bangladesh while her father was working with USAID to bring electricity to the area.

Garrett and her mother traveled to Mother Teresa's orphanage in Calcutta three times a year to work with the children.

"It was one of the highlights of my life," she said.

The unusual upbringing influenced Garrett's plans for her future. She graduated in May 2003 from the University of Southern Mississippi and received her invitation to join the Peace Corps the next month.

She had 10 days to accept the invitation, but she only needed one. That August, she flew to Bulgaria.

Volunteering with the Peace Corps is a 27-month commitment. The first three months are spent training; the next two years, working.

"They don't teach you the language before you go," Garrett said.

Technical skills and the country's language and culture are learned during the first three months while living with a host family, she said.

"Then you're assigned to your job."

Garrett is working at the Open Door Resource Center, a nongovernment agency that assists women who have been abused or who may need help finding a job.

"It was really frustrating at first," she said. "It took me about eight to 12 months to feel like I was actually getting work done.

"I thought I'd be going somewhere where the problems are on the surface, like India or Africa," she said.

Garrett said there's a lot of discrimination and segregation of the Romany, or Gypsy, population from the ethnic Bulgarians.

"It's very similar to what we saw here during the '60s, but it's also a lot worse in a lot of ways," she said.

Garrett also will be heading the Girls Leading Our World camp, a 10-day camp that provides leadership training for girls ages 14-18. GLOW camps were started in Bulgaria in 2000 and have had many positive results for the girls who attend, she said.

When her two-year stint with the Peace Corps ends this fall, Garrett said she plans to return to India and do some volunteer work then perhaps attend graduate school in urban planning or public policy administration.

The Peace Corps gives a little more than $6,000 to volunteers once their service is up to help ease the transition back to normal life.

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Jackson Clarion Ledger

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



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