March 12, 2003: Headlines: COS - Moldova: PCVs in the Field - Moldova: Export Associations: Quad City Times: PCV Kelli McGee works with Agriculture Producers’ Association in Moldova

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Moldova: Peace Corps Moldova : The Peace Corps in Moldova: March 12, 2003: Headlines: COS - Moldova: PCVs in the Field - Moldova: Export Associations: Quad City Times: PCV Kelli McGee works with Agriculture Producers’ Association in Moldova

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PCV Kelli McGee works with Agriculture Producers’ Association in Moldova

1009286, PCV Kelli McGee works with Agriculture Producers’ Association in Moldova

Peace Corps vision thrives through Quad-City woman
By Thomas Geyer
Kelli McGee’s hereditary urge to travel became too strong to resist.
Last year, she quit her job as an analyst at Valley Bank, packed her bags and joined the Peace Corps, which celebrated its 42nd anniversary March 1.

“When I got word that the Peace Corps is celebrating 42 years on Peace Corps Day, I thought that I should write home and fulfill part of my mission,” she wrote in an e-mail.
For the past nine months, McGee has been stationed in Moldova, a former Soviet bloc country bordered by Ukraine and Romania.
“I felt too young to stay put,” the 23-year-old, Hillsdale, Ill., native said. “My dad got the travel bug when he was my age, I think, so he was always packing us up to see the United States. So, I’ve always liked the feeling that I was going somewhere.
“I also needed a job where I felt like I was helping people.”
And the Peace Corps fit the bill.
“I love foreign people, talking to them, learning languages, figuring out little cultural oddities and the adrenaline that comes from traveling,” she said.
She chose Eastern Europe because she wanted to learn Russian. On June 15, she arrived in her host country.
McGee is a consultant for Uniagro-Prim, a business center of the Agriculture Producers’ Association, which is funded by USAID.
The job allows her to put her economics degree from DePaul University to work.
“Moldova grows potatoes, wheat, watermelons, tomatoes, peach trees, cherries, apricots, raspberries, grapes, grapes and more grapes,” McGee said. “They export all of these things, but to a small degree.
“I focus my efforts on teaching them to get information to potential buyers, think about their consumers’ desires, and produce things so as to fulfill contracts.”
Of course, it took time to adjust.
“My language for those first few days consisted of me pointing at words in a dictionary,” she said.
She is getting better at Romanian, which she uses to communicate, then will learn Russian.
While Moldova’s elections Feb. 25, 2001, brought a decisive communist government to power, there are many who would like to see the old Soviet regime return.
“The old people are bitter,” McGee said. “ ‘Things were great then,’ they say, ‘but look now, we don’t have street lights, no water in houses, no one has money.’
“But the young people don’t like communism,” she said.
Moldovans are peaceful people, who live simple lives and rarely talk about what is going on in the rest of the world. Iraq and the U.S. are far away, and the people are just too busy working their fields and taking care of their families, she said.
McGee said she loves her host family. Simion Cotelnic, 43, is a hygienic doctor and inspects the food at local markets and checks for licenses. He has two daughters, Olga, 16, and Mariana, 12. Vera is the woman of the house, but like 10-20 percent of the population, she works abroad.
“From Turkey, she sends home clothes, money and trinkets for the family, and will come back in April to help with planting the garden, and will also purchase a washing machine for us,” McGee said.
In her work and living, McGee is having the time of her life.
One day she is talking to a woman who wants to open a soup kitchen. On another day, she is consulting with a Syrian man who exports bulls.
“Every day is different,” she said. “I never know what I’m going to be doing.”
(Around the Globe is a series of occasional features about Quad-Citians and their international experiences.)
Thomas Geyer can be contacted at (563) 383-2328 or

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

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Story Source: Quad City Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Moldova; PCVs in the Field - Moldova; Export Associations



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