March 30, 2005: Headlines: COS - India: The Chowan Herald: Years after her service in India, Gail Singh continues to recommend the Peace Corps to everyone looking to change the world, one village at a time

Peace Corps Online: Directory: India: Peace Corps India: The Peace Corps in India: March 30, 2005: Headlines: COS - India: The Chowan Herald: Years after her service in India, Gail Singh continues to recommend the Peace Corps to everyone looking to change the world, one village at a time

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, June 26, 2005 - 2:51 pm: Edit Post

Years after her service in India, Gail Singh continues to recommend the Peace Corps to everyone looking to change the world, one village at a time

Years after her service in India, Gail Singh continues to recommend the Peace Corps to everyone looking to change the world, one village at a time

Years after her service in India, Gail Singh continues to recommend the Peace Corps to everyone looking to change the world, one village at a time

Esprit de Corps
Years after her trip to India, Gail Singh continues to recommend the Peace Corps to everyone looking to change the world, one village at a time.

Caption: Gail Singh at her first assignment in a remote village of Central India in 1965. Singh was likely the first white person the Indians had ever seen.

By Earline White
The Chowan Herald
Edenton, N.C.
March 30, 2005

"When I joined the Peace Corps in 1965, I was just like everyone else-naïve and idealistic," Gail Singh said as she sat in her restaurant "That Fancy Café" where her travels linger in the Indian Curry dish she offered her patrons earlier that day. Like curry itself, Singh is an enticing woman who is filled with as much passion as her curry is spice.

"I have been accused of being a Pollyanna," she said, "but I still feel that if they send the Peace Corps volunteers instead of the military [to the Middle East] we wouldn't have the problems we have today. Americans have this image as being pompous and self-serving, but there are thousands of villages around the world whose people remember an American who came to them without an agenda and became their friend. It was an American who helped them with something as simple as digging a fishpond or constructing a chicken house. It is true what they say-you can attract more flies with honey-why not follow that philosophy. Like Gandhi said, it is not a contest of wills where I win and you lose or you win and I lose; it's how you deal with each other and result where we end up being friends and respect each other and in turn, make the world a better place."

"I feel the majority of people who volunteer with the Peace Corps are not running away, but running towards something; perhaps to slay the dragon. The Peace Corps has changed so much since I joined back in its early days. It was so unstructured then. But I wouldn't change it and would recommend it to anyone," Singh said.

At the ripe age of 20, Singh signed up for the Peace Corps. Her family thought she was crazy-her mother refused to ride with her to the airport. Of the 150 that were invited to train for the project called "Village Level Nutrition" in India, only 90 completed and were selected to go. Singh remembers that Southerners were a very rare thing in the Peace Corps. At the time, there was just one other couple there from the South, Georgia that is. Training for the volunteers was for three months after which they were off to a land where things they read about in books became an everyday reality.

"I was put as far into the jungle as one could go," Singh recalled of her first project site in central India. "They sent me off with one other volunteers with directions that said 'take a train, ask directions when you get there and walk to the village'. Singh laughed remembering the cryptic instructions.

She recalls the slogan of the Peace Corps "The toughest job you'll ever love" and agrees whole-heartedly. For those who want to make a positive change in the quality of life on the planet, the Peace Corps comes high on Singh's recommendations. She adds, "You certainly get more out of it than you give."

There are lots of images that accompanied Singh after she left India. The smell of jasmine in the evenings, the children learning from their parents how to beg, puffs of dust on roads, bullock carts in open air markets, the leper in the bazaar, skinny legs, swollen bellies and distorted limbs-these are all images burned on Singh's brain and in her scrapbook. Life's lessons seem harder to take when they come in a different language.

Granted, every day was not as inspiring as the few that stuck with Singh. There were days when her friend's expression, "How dare the sun come up for another day," seemed to permeate the air all around. Singh admits that her days volunteering in India were some of the worst and best times of her life. But like everything, "Victories come slowly," Singh said.

One triumph Singh and fellow volunteer; Mary Jane, came away with was that in northern Indian locale. The two spent 6 months coaxing a deprived two year old girl the seemingly luxury of milk powder. The girl had never received enough nutrition or care to stand on her own tow legs; while her brother ran around her listless, seated body full of zest and happy. But it goes deeper than just giving the child the mild, "The miracle wasn't that Jesus actually caused the fish and the loaves to multiply but that they learned to share. It wasn't that we fed her, it was that her mother started paying attention to her and treat her the same as the boy child."

Like the milk powder that had been sitting in storage, Singh and Mary Jane also asked for permission to distribute vegetable seeds that were previously just being stored in a warehouse when the natives could have been growing vegetable gardens all the while. Once again, after gaining permission from the government agency that owned the seeds, the volunteers set off on a mission to change the world, one village at a time.

"We would go out to the sites and distribute the seeds telling the farmers and anyone who would take them that the vegetables would enhance their diet. We really didn't have any idea what they would do with the seeds-throw them away or what. Then the next season they all came back asking for more!"

As for the Peace Corps, there are projects like the village nutrition one in central India being developed all over the world every day. Thousands apply driven by their desire to 'change the world'. In the end, each volunteer is making a difference and the government liaisons between the Peace Corps and individual countries make it so those who need help get it. Whether it is learning to raise pigs, how to stop the spread of AIDS, or learning water purification, the smallest steps to nourishing the world's people and teaching self preservation is what the Peace Corps is all about. Stepping onto a foreign land, not destroying what is there, but helping to preserve the traditions while improving the quality of life.

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

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
The Peace Corps Library Date: March 27 2005 No: 536 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related stories in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can find hundreds of stories about what RPCVs with your same interests or from your Country of Service are doing today. If you have a web site, support the "Peace Corps Library" and link to it today.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

RPCVs and Friends remember Pope John Paul II Date: April 3 2005 No: 550 RPCVs and Friends remember Pope John Paul II
Tony Hall found the pope to be courageous and capable of forgiving the man who shot him in 1981, Mark Gearan said the pope was as dynamic in person as he appears on television, Maria Shriver said he was a beacon of virtue, strength and goodness, and an RPCV who met the pope while serving in the Solomon Islands said he possessed the holiness of a man filled with a deep love and concern for humanity. Leave your thoughts here.

Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000  strong Date: April 2 2005 No: 543 Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000 strong
170,000 is a very special number for the RPCV community - it's the number of Volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. It's also a number that is very special to us because March is the first month since our founding in January, 2001 that our readership has exceeded 170,000. And while we know that not everyone who comes to this site is an RPCV, they are all "Friends of the Peace Corps." Thanks everybody for making PCOL your source of news for the Returned Volunteer community.

This Month's Feature Stories - only on PCOL Date: March 27 2005 No: 537 This Month's Feature Stories - only on PCOL
Dream Come True - Revisiting India after 34 years
The Coyne Column: Read Winning Vanity Fair PCV Essay
Tomas Belsky's paintings inspired by service in Brazil
RPCV reunites with friend after 40 years
RPCV reviews "Los Heraldos Negros" by Cesar Vallejo
Photo Essay: Taking it to the Streets

April 3, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: April 3 2005 No: 548 April 3, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Ralph White suspended for opening locked gates 2 Apr
The Coyne Column: Events in Kyrgyzstan 2 Apr
Timothy J. O’Brien suggests Korea increase publicity 1 Apr
Danielle Wain deals with dry areas in Uganda 1 Apr
Chris Matthews says Schiavo's Dad having "Good Time" 1 Apr
Chris Dodd to reintroduce workers protection act 1 Apr
Steven Lawry named president of Antioch College 31 Mar
Matt Sesow shines light on grief and pain of war 31 Mar
Kinky Friedman Preps for Gubernatorial Run 30 Mar
Police travel to Tonga with RPCV 28 Mar
Randall L. Tobias speaks at PC Headquarters 28 Mar
NBC apologizes to Turkey for West Wing episode 28 Mar
Jim Doyle proposes domestic partner benefit 27 Mar
University to name library auditorium for Elaine Chao 26 Mar
Rockefeller says every young American should serve 26 Mar
Chris Shays calls Republicans "party of theocracy" 25 Mar
Norm Coleman to visit South America 25 Mar

April 3, 2005: RPCV Groups in the News Date: April 3 2005 No: 545 April 3, 2005: RPCV Groups in the News
Houston RPCVs sponsor "Around the World in a Day"on April 6 25 Mar
Vasquez to visit DePaul University on April 6 22 Mar
Henry McKoy speaks at Clemson University April 6 1 Apr
Minnesota RPCVs need Photos for Exhibition 24 Mar
Maryland RPCVs eat crab cakes in Annapolis 17 Mar
Connecticut RPCVs held fundraiser on March 5 3 Mar
RPCVs: Post your stories or press releases here for inclusion next week.

Crisis Corps arrives in Thailand Date: March 20 2005 No: 530 Crisis Corps arrives in Thailand
After the Tsunami in Southeast Asia last December, Peace Corps issued an appeal for Crisis Corps Volunteers and over 200 RPCVs responded. The first team of 8 Crisis Corps volunteers departed for Thailand on March 18 to join RPCVs who are already supporting relief efforts in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and India with other agencies and NGO's.

RPCVs in Congress ask colleagues to support PC Date: March 5 2005 No: 482 RPCVs in Congress ask colleagues to support PC
RPCVs Sam Farr, Chris Shays, Thomas Petri, James Walsh, and Mike Honda have asked their colleagues in Congress to add their names to a letter they have written to the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee, asking for full funding of $345 M for the Peace Corps in 2006. As a follow-on to Peace Corps week, please read the letter and call your Representative in Congress and ask him or her to add their name to the letter.

Add your info now to the RPCV Directory Date: March 13 2005 No: 489 Add your info now to the RPCV Directory
Call Harris Publishing at 800-414-4608 right away to add your name or make changes to your listing in the newest edition of the NPCA's Directory of Peace Corps Volunteers and Former Staff. Then read our story on how you can get access to the book after it is published. The deadline for inclusion is May 16 so call now.

March 1: National Day of Action Date: February 28 2005 No: 471 March 1: National Day of Action
Tuesday, March 1, is the NPCA's National Day of Action. Please call your Senators and ask them to support the President's proposed $27 Million budget increase for the Peace Corps for FY2006 and ask them to oppose the elimination of Perkins loans that benefit Peace Corps volunteers from low-income backgrounds. Follow this link for step-by-step information on how to make your calls. Then take our poll and leave feedback on how the calls went.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: The Chowan Herald

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


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.