January 23, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Holland Sentinel: Kristyn Brouwer has been busy hitchhiking around the Ghanaian countryside, perfecting the art of balancing water on her head and learning to share her living quarters with insects

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ghana: Peace Corps Ghana : The Peace Corps in Ghana: January 23, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Holland Sentinel: Kristyn Brouwer has been busy hitchhiking around the Ghanaian countryside, perfecting the art of balancing water on her head and learning to share her living quarters with insects

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Kristyn Brouwer has been busy hitchhiking around the Ghanaian countryside, perfecting the art of balancing water on her head and learning to share her living quarters with insects

Kristyn Brouwer has been busy hitchhiking around the Ghanaian countryside, perfecting the art of balancing water on her head and learning to share her living quarters with insects

Kristyn Brouwer has been busy hitchhiking around the Ghanaian countryside, perfecting the art of balancing water on her head and learning to share her living quarters with insects

Peace Corps volunteer focuses on social justice, cultural awareness

By BETH WALTON
Staff writer

In the last four months, Kristyn Brouwer hasn't watched television, talked on a cell phone, gone out to dinner, watched a movie or visited a shopping mall.

And she says she hasn't been bored once.

Instead, the 21-year-old Park Township resident has been busy hitchhiking around the Ghanaian countryside, perfecting the art of balancing water on her head and learning to share her living quarters with insects.


Brouwer is a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana, on the central west coast of Africa.

"I've never kept a traditional Ghanaian mud compound before," she wrote in a recent letter to her parents, Wayne and Brenda Brouwer. "I've never had ash and dust in every part of my body and my surroundings before. I've never prepared food before without a fridge, and shared my living quarters with an aggressive mouse, millions of ants and about 3 dozen lizards (at least that I can identify as regular inhabitants)."

Brouwer entered Calvin College at the age of 16 despite not having a high school diploma. She had attended Holland Christian High School but was ahead of her classmates academically and was admitted to Calvin through an early admission program.

She graduated from Calvin in December 2002 at the age of 19 with majors in philosophy and English. While at Calvin, she made her first trip to Ghana through the college's study abroad program.

"Nothing is wasted on Kristyn," said Susan Selch, a professor of English literature at Calvin. "I'm sure as she was writing home about the insects in her house, I can just see her thinking, what does that mean or how do I think about that?"

Kristyn returned to Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer in September.

She keeps in touch with her family by mail.

"The two biggest things in Kristyn's heart and head are social justice and intercultural awareness and respect. The Peace Corps allows her to explore those things," Wayne Brouwer said.

For her first three months in Ghana, Brouwer lived with a host family in the village of Twine-Anguenta as she acculturated herself, learning the native language and customs.

"My village is so poor that it cannot, among all thousand residents or so, raise enough money to connect to the power lines which run overhead, " she said in a letter.

The children of the village have been following Brouwer around.

"They love when we play clapping games, sing, dance, or I slaughter Twi (the native language) as they teach me new words," Brouwer wrote in a letter.

After three months of training, Brouwer moved to the site of her permanent assignment -- working in two villages in northeast Ghana with Acakowdep, a women's development agency, teaching villagers how to use and preserve their natural resources more effectively.

"I must be some sort of crazy to be doing this -- cattle hanging out in the dirt patch that is my entry way. How strange. I just might be crazy enough though to think I could create a life for myself here."

Contact Beth Walton at beth.walton@hollandsentinel.com or (616) 546-4279.

All contents © Copyright 2005 The Holland Sentinel





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

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Story Source: Holland Sentinel

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