December 28, 2004: Headlines: COS - Mali: Sonoma West: Kelly Meeker will be in Mali

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mali: Peace Corps Mali : The Peace Corps in Mali: December 28, 2004: Headlines: COS - Mali: Sonoma West: Kelly Meeker will be in Mali

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Kelly Meeker will be in Mali

Kelly Meeker will be in Mali

Kelly Meeker will be in Mali

Healdsburg woman leaving home for 27-month stint in the Peace Corps

Kelly Meeker will be in Africa after training

By Nathan Wright, Staff Writer

Kelly Meeker had what her mother calls "a very macho Christmas."

The 23-year-old Dry Creek Valley resident unwrapped a U.S. Marine survival kit, a Leatherman utility knife, a solar powered battery charger, a satellite radio, and lots of Kool-Aid.

Meeker will include all of her gifts in her government regulated 80-pound pack next month when she leaves home for a 27-month journey in the Peace Corps.

"I'm nervous, I'm excited," Meeker said. "It's equal parts. It's going to be an adventure."

Meeker leaves for the Peace Corps on January 17, but isn't sure where she'll be living for the next two years. She'll be trained in Mali for three months, but the government-run program does not inform its volunteers where they'll be serving until after they've left U.S. soil. She has been told that she will be serving in Africa.

"It's a scary thought that you don't get to pick where you go," she said. "You're surrendering a lot of control to a big government bureaucracy."

The Peace Corps currently has 7,500 volunteers in 137 different countries all over the world. The program, established in 1961 by President Kennedy, has sent 170,000 volunteers to foreign soil in the past 43 years.

Wherever she ends up, Meeker knows she'll be doing forestry and soil conservation work, and all members of the Peace Corps participate in HIV/AIDS education.

Meeker was introduced, and ultimately decided to join, the Peace Corps while attending college at Georgetown University. The Jesuit institution stresses service, and she quickly warmed to the idea of joining the humanitarian effort.

The program will also help Meeker in her future aspirations of working in development policy for the United States government. "They say, to get into it, you either go into the military or join the Peace Corps," she said. "I didn't want to go into the military."

She's looking forward to representing her country in Africa, offering a foreign community a face not associated with the United State's current military operations. "I'm proud to be an American, doing work that will be helpful and useful," she said.

Meeker brings a diverse background to the Peace Corps. A southern California native, she moved to Sonoma County after she graduated from high school when her family decided to focus on its winery. She graduated from Georgetown with a degree in Science Technology and International Affairs, which she says combines policy with hard science.

After finishing school she moved back to Sonoma County and worked at the Meeker family winery as the bookkeeper and in the cellar during harvest. Her parents are sad to see her go, but are also excited.

"It's a wonderful organization and we hope the very best for her," mother Molly Meeker said. "This is going to be a life altering experience. It's something she will take with her for the rest of her life."

Both parents are concerned that she won't be near a telephone and communication will be sparse. "She's going to have to put up with a lot of inconveniences in able to serve," her mother said.

"And none of it seems to concern her," added father Charlie Meeker.

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

Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.

January 8, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: January 8 2005 No: 367 January 8, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Zambia RPCV Karla Berg interviews 1,374 people on Peace 7 Jan
Breaking Taboo, Mandela Says Son Died of AIDS 6 Jan
Dreadlocked PCV raises eyebrows in Africa 6 Jan
RPCV Jose Ravano directs CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka 6 Jan
Persuading Retiring Baby Boomers to Volunteer 6 Jan
Inventor of "Drown Proofing" retires 6 Jan
NPCA Membership approves Board Changes 5 Jan
Timothy Shriver announces "Rebuild Hope Fund" 5 Jan
More Water Bottles, Fewer Bullets 4 Jan
Poland RPCV Rebecca Parker runs Solterra Books 2 Jan
Peace Corps Fund plans event for September 30 Dec
RPCV Carmen Bailey recounts bout with cerebral malaria 28 Dec
more top stories...

RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?
The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.
Changing of the Guard Date: December 15 2004 No: 330 Changing of the Guard
With Lloyd Pierson's departure, Marie Wheat has been named acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps. Although Wheat is not an RPCV and has limited overseas experience, in her two years at the agency she has come to be respected as someone with good political skills who listens and delegates authority and we wish her the best in her new position.
Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."
RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack
RPCV Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia survived Monday's attack on the consulate without injury. Five consular employees and four others were killed. Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first woman to hold the position, has been an outspoken advocate of rights for Arab women and has met with Saudi reformers despite efforts by Saudi leaders to block the discussions.
Is Gaddi Leaving? Is Gaddi Leaving?
Rumors are swirling that Peace Corps Director Vasquez may be leaving the administration. We think Director Vasquez has been doing a good job and if he decides to stay to the end of the administration, he could possibly have the same sort of impact as a Loret Ruppe Miller. If Vasquez has decided to leave, then Bob Taft, Peter McPherson, Chris Shays, or Jody Olsen would be good candidates to run the agency. Latest: For the record, Peace Corps has no comment on the rumors.
The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.

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Story Source: Sonoma West

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