July 28, 2005: Headlines: COS - Saint Lucia: Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch: Annie Meidl heading to Saint Lucia in Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Saint Lucia: Peace Corps Saint Lucia : The Peace Corps in Saint Lucia: July 28, 2005: Headlines: COS - Saint Lucia: Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch: Annie Meidl heading to Saint Lucia in Peace Corps

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Annie Meidl heading to Saint Lucia in Peace Corps

Annie Meidl heading to Saint Lucia in Peace Corps

Meidl will live with a Caribbean family for a month or so, then find housing when she knows for sure what her final destination is. As it is, she admits she's jumping off a cliff and building her wings on the way down.

Annie Meidl heading to Saint Lucia in Peace Corps

Meidl heads for open waters in Peace Corps
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by Joshua Dixon
Posted-Thursday, July 28, 2005 11:50 AM CDT
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Annie Meidl
"I don't know that I'll be able to get much sleep tonight," Annie Meidl said on Monday evening, her last night in Sleepy Eye for a couple years. "I guess that's what caffeine in the airport is for."

When Meidl applied to the Peace Corps last September, she was told she'd most likely end up somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Naturally, she wound up in the Caribbean instead, half a world away.

"I found out in May," she said on Monday, just hours before she was to leave. Meidl had just been out riding her bike around Sleepy Eye Monday evening, enjoying the mosquitoes and humidity one last time before heading off for the Caribbean beaches.

"I was just hoping I could squeeze out a few more minutes with my friends," she explained.

Meidl, a 2002 Sleepy Eye High School grad, graduated from the U of M, Moorhead, in May with a degree in biology, with an emphasis in health. She admits she's not sure what her final goal is, but said she'd like to try for something in "international health."

As she was getting close to graduation, she admits, "I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I was talking to an acquaintance at school about the Peace Corps, and it seemed like a nice fit. I'd like to do lots of traveling. My friends weren't really surprised I'd want to do something like this. I've gotten lots of support from my family and friends."

On Tuesday morning, Meidl left for the Twin Cities and thence to Miami for orientation. She will head to the island of St. Lucia for three or four weeks of more training and a final assignment.

"I'll be doing lots of learning as I go," she said. "I don't know which island I'll be living on yet - some are mountainous, some are flat."

She expects she'll end up in some sort of community development program, "anything in the community that involves health," she said, which can be anything from teaching, to setting up a new health program from scratch.

Since May, Meidl has become a rapid-fire student of the Caribbean, learning as much as she can about the area.

On Monday, Meidl said she was more excited than nervous to be traveling further away from home than she ever had before. She said the greatest warning she received was, "the harassment toward women is pretty bad there. They recommend wearing lots of clothes there that cover your body."

She's also been told that the area she'll be living in, "has a lot of tourist areas and a lot of areas where everyone's unemployed. There's a definite line; they don't have a middle class."

Meidl is also a little concerned about the language barrier, to the extent it is a barrier.

"The official language is English, but (one of the Peace Corps officers) I've talked to said he only understands about 85 percent of what people say, and he's been there for four years. He said everything is in the present tense there; for the past or future, they'll use different words before the verb."

While she's there, Meidl hopes to experiment with scuba diving, and planned her suitcase accordingly.

"Packing was really, really a challenge," she laughed. "I needed a swimsuit, and everyone told me to take a lot of pairs of good shoes. They said don't buy shoes there; they'll just fall apart."

Meidl will live with a Caribbean family for a month or so, then find housing when she knows for sure what her final destination is. As it is, she admits she's jumping off a cliff and building her wings on the way down.

"It'll be an adventure, for sure!"





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Story Source: Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

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