June 12, 2005: Headlines: COS - Honduras: Pittsburgh Live: Jason Bedford spent two years in Honduras, Central America, honing his computer and Spanish skills as a Peace Corps volunteer

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Honduras: Peace Corps Honduras: The Peace Corps in Honduras: June 12, 2005: Headlines: COS - Honduras: Pittsburgh Live: Jason Bedford spent two years in Honduras, Central America, honing his computer and Spanish skills as a Peace Corps volunteer

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-245-37.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.245.37) on Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 3:51 pm: Edit Post

Jason Bedford spent two years in Honduras, Central America, honing his computer and Spanish skills as a Peace Corps volunteer

Jason Bedford spent two years in Honduras, Central America, honing his computer and Spanish skills as a Peace Corps volunteer

Jason Bedford spent two years in Honduras, Central America, honing his computer and Spanish skills as a Peace Corps volunteer

Making a difference

By Mary Pickels

TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Sunday, June 12, 2005

[Excerpt]

RECRUITMENT INCREASE

Jason Bedford spent two years in Honduras, Central America, honing his computer and Spanish skills as a Peace Corps volunteer. He returned to the U.S. and, for the last two years, the Meadville, Crawford County, native has worked as a Peace Corps recruiter on the campus of Penn State.

"Recruitment is up big-time at Penn State," Bedford said. "The economy is helping a lot. We're becoming a global market. Lots of people want to learn another language and learn about other cultures. The other reality is the job market."

Bedford, 32, recruits primarily from the campus of 40,000 students, but occasionally visits branch campuses and area high schools. Presently, 61 Penn State students/graduates are fulfilling Peace Corps assignments somewhere in the world.

Bedford, who completed his undergraduate studies at Slippery Rock University, worked on water and agricultural projects during his 2000-2002 assignment in an area without electricity, cable television and cell phones.

"In my spare time, I learned to build furniture and learned to build a latrine, things I never thought about doing before because I was always watching television or running from job to job," he said. "I found the culture shock worse coming home."

He found Honduran people, he said, "much warmer, more likely to welcome you into their homes, than Americans, unfortunately."

Bedford, a Penn State doctoral candidate studying rural sociology and demography, hopes for a career in international development. As a recruiter, he finds that many interested students always had an interest in going overseas and helping people with development of a foreign country.

"It's more altruistic than wanting to educate (other people) about America," he said. "But that's part of it."

Assignment preferences can become competitive, he said. Many volunteers want to go to Latin America because they want to learn Spanish. If an assignment requires an engineer and a candidate does not speak Spanish, he's likely to be selected over a candidate who speaks Spanish but has no engineering experience.

"Returned Peace Corps volunteers often say, 'I always wanted to do that.' It's a great opportunity to go live and get a better perspective, not only on another country but on your own. ... When you are living out of your country, you really appreciate the opportunities America has.

"You are not saving the world," he said, "but you do make a difference in people's lives. Not a lot of jobs we do can offer that."

Mary Pickels can be reached at mpickels@tribweb.com or (724) 836-5401.





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Story Source: Pittsburgh Live

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