May 18, 2005: Headlines: COS - Zambia: Recruitment: Pilot News: Jessica Pawell headed for Zambia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Zambia: Peace Corps Zambia : The Peace Corps in Zambia: May 18, 2005: Headlines: COS - Zambia: Recruitment: Pilot News: Jessica Pawell headed for Zambia

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - 3:59 pm: Edit Post

Jessica Pawell headed for Zambia

Jessica Pawell headed for Zambia

Jessica Pawell headed for Zambia

Local woman headed to Africa Sunday

By Lindahl Wiegand
Pilot News
Plymouth, Ind.
May 18, 2005

Caption: Local resident Jessica Pawell smiles as she talks about Zambia, Africa, while looking at a map at the Plymouth Public Library. On Sunday, Pawell is leaving to join the Peace Corps and live in Zambia on her own for two years. Pawell is a 2002 John Glenn High School graduate and has worked at the Ponderosa in Plymouth for more than four years.

PLYMOUTH - For someone who has never been out of the U.S., a foreign country might sound intimidating. But for Jessica Pawell, a mudhut in Zambia sounds like the volunteer opportunity of a lifetime.

"I feel like if I help one person, my job is done," said Pawell.

Pawell is leaving Sunday to join the Peace Corps. For her first trip out of the country, she is going to live in Zambia, Africa, for two years.

"I've always wanted to go into the Peace Corps, since I was like 8 or 9," she said.

As a child, Pawell watched many "save the children commercials" and looked through National Geographic magazines, she said.

"That's basically what inspired me," she said.

After graduating from John Glenn High School in 2002, Pawell signed up for 10 months with AmeriCorps. From January to November of 2003 she traveled across the U.S. and volunteered her services. She was trained by the Red Cross and called to Maryland to give Disaster Relief from Hurricane Isabel. Upon her return, she immediately applied for the Peace Corps.

"AmeriCorps got my foot in the door," she said.

This Sunday, Pawell will travel to Philadelphia to receive her immunizations and paperwork. On Tuesday she will make the 22-hour flight to Zambia.

In Zambia, Pawell will live with a family for three months of in-country training. She will learn how to cook, clean and acclimate herself to the environment.

"There's no electricity, no running water," she said. "I have to learn how to purify my water."

After three months, Pawell will be on her own. She will be assigned a job in the village, although she has no idea what it might be, she said. Her main transportation will be her bike, even though the nearest villages are 30 miles away over rough terrain.
"I'll be put in my own village and live in my own mudhut," she said. "I could be working in a fishery or beekeeping."

Pawell initially wanted to work with children in Zambia, she said. She is also prepared to work in forestry and agriculture. Although she has lived on a farm her entire life, Pawell knows Zambia will be very different.

"It's going to be a culture shock," she said. "They eat goats and we used to have goats as pets."

Her Peace Corps duties include AIDS education and meeting with government officials to discuss her village. Fortunately, most of the people in Zambia speak English.

"We get together and kind of brainstorm what we need to do next," she said.

If Pawell looks familiar, it's because she has worked at the Plymouth Ponderosa for the past 4 1/2 years. Most people are "really surprised" she is going to Zambia, she said. The responses have been positive and negative.

"They hear Africa is such a bad place," she said. "A lot of people just aren't educated about Africa."

But it is evident Pawell's regular customers will miss her when a man approaches her in the library.

"Keep that smile and have a good trip," he said as he walked away. "He comes into Ponderosa every day," she said.

On her departure, Pawell can take 80 pounds of essentials in two bags. Soaps, clothes, good hiking sandals, an MP3 player and her camera are on her list, said Pawell.

"Lots of film and my journal is really important, she said.

But Pawell's biggest concern is not her lack of possessions, the threat of disease or hard physical labor. Missing her family and friends will be the hardest part, she said.

"I plan on getting some kind of disease. No matter how much you boil your water, you're going to get something," she said.

Pawell will have little contact with her family, friends or her boyfriend during her two-year visit. Mail will take three weeks either way and care packages could be confiscated and picked over by the African postal service, she said. She will probably not come back at all during her two-year stay, because roundtrip tickets are more than $2,000.

She will receive a small living allowance each month. For every month working, she also receives three days vacation time, which she will use to travel Africa, she said. Her parents are going to make the trip to Zambia for their 50th Wedding Anniversary, said Pawell, and her boyfriend plans visit all the way from California.

Pawell has spoken with Peace Corps veterans who lived in Africa and has heard positive stories.

"I've heard nothing negative about the Peace Corps," she said. "That makes me feel a lot better too."

Between packing and saying good-byes to people she might not see for two years, Pawell plans to stop by a hair salon this week. As if two years of service in a foreign country isn't enough, she wants to donate her long, curly hair to Locks of Love before she leaves.

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

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Story Source: Pilot News

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



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