March 1, 2003: Headlines: COS - Bolivia: PC Day: Third Goal: COS - Macedonia: PCVs in the Field - Bolivia: PCVs in the Field - Macedonia: : Bolivia and Macedonia PCVs enlighten students

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Macedonia: Peace Corps Macedonia: The Peace Corps in Macedonia: March 1, 2003: Headlines: COS - Bolivia: PC Day: Third Goal: COS - Macedonia: PCVs in the Field - Bolivia: PCVs in the Field - Macedonia: : Bolivia and Macedonia PCVs enlighten students

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Bolivia and Macedonia PCVs enlighten students

Bolivia and Macedonia PCVs enlighten students

Peace Corps volunteers enlighten students

March 1, 2003

A family in Bolivia earns less than $2 a day, a fact that surprised Santa Rita fourth-graders on Friday when three former Peace Corps volunteers shared their experiences.

J.W. Lown, Matt Self and Pam Bladine spoke to Terry Rogers' and Kathy Hammons' fourth-grade classes Friday.

Holding a squeegee, Lown, a Santa Rita graduate and one of Rogers' former students, told the attentive group of 9- and 10-year-olds, ''If you were in Bolivia, you would have one of these.''

Lown said it is common for Bolivian children to only go to school until sixth grade. Then they have to go out and help support their families by washing windshields in the cities.

Self, who volunteered in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia during the war in Kosovo, was evacuated from the area when it became too dangerous.

Self taught the fourth-graders the words cat, dog and horse from the Cyrillic alphabet. He told the class that life is similar there to life here, ''except it's very poor and very unstable.''

The former volunteer showed the class a Muslim hat, explaining that only Muslims who had visited Mecca were allowed to wear the hats.

''Wearing this hat could get you killed,'' he said.

One student asked why the groups - Christians, Muslims, Albanians and Serbs -fought.

''It's so old, it's been going on so long, no one knows who started it,'' Self said.

Savannah Clay said she might consider joining the Peace Corps.

''The Peace Corps is important because, like Mr. J.W. said, the forests are the lungs of the world, and if they would cut them down the oxygen would be gone,'' Savannah said. ''It's good that they help other countries. It can be very exciting and very down-sided.''

Asked what the down side is, Savannah said ''living in a net.''

As Lown explained to the students, he had to live under a large mosquito net because of his location on the edge of the jungle and the potential to contract malaria.

Many students were not even aware of what the Peace Corps was until Friday. Some had heard of it but learned a lot from the stories they heard on Friday.

Janice Hooper said she didn't know about the organization.

''If they went to all the countries, we could go and make peace with other people,'' she said. ''There wouldn't be any wars, and I think without wars the world would be a better place.''

Holt Hambright was surprised that mushrooms could grow on a person's body.

Lown told a story about waking up one morning after a particularly bad rainy season. Mushrooms had sprung up right on his skin because of the extreme humidity.

Hambright said the Peace Corps is important because ''there probably wouldn't be many people around because there would be so many problems.''

Bladine spent two years in Venezuela from 1966-68 teaching and promoting physical education and activities.

''The mountainsides were covered with shanty houses. The people there are very poor,'' Bladine said.

Bladine told the class that volunteers come back with more than they ever anticipate.

Lown agreed.

''The Peace Corps is the cheapest form of goodwill that the U.S. has,'' he said.

The students were astounded by the Peace Corps salary.

When Lown asked them to guess how much they were paid, answers ranged from $5,000 to $25,000.

To the students' surprise, volunteers make only $250 a month, which has to pay for everything but health care.

Lindsey Henderson said she would consider volunteering, but ''you don't make very much money.''

Friday marked the 42nd anniversary of the founding of the Peace Corps by President John F. Kennedy.

Contact Gretchen M. Wintermantel at or 659-8254.

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

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Bolivia; PC Day; Third Goal; COS - Macedonia; PCVs in the Field - Bolivia; PCVs in the Field - Macedonia



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