October 23, 2005: Headlines: COS - Lesotho: Oklahoma Daily: Anthony Pranger will head to Lesotho to start his tour of service with the Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Lesotho: Peace Corps Lesotho : The Peace Corps in Lesotho: October 23, 2005: Headlines: COS - Lesotho: Oklahoma Daily: Anthony Pranger will head to Lesotho to start his tour of service with the Peace Corps

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Anthony Pranger will head to Lesotho to start his tour of service with the Peace Corps

Anthony Pranger will head to Lesotho to start his tour of service with the Peace Corps

“I’m basically going to be living as a non-American for a while,” Pranger, an OU alumnus, said. “In two weeks, I may start to be a completely different person.”

Anthony Pranger will head to Lesotho to start his tour of service with the Peace Corps

Sooner enlist in Corps
Twenty-eight OU alumni are serving in the Peace Corps.

by Grant Slater

October 23, 2005

Anthony Pranger is preparing to disappear. Everything he owns will be shoved into a duffel bag. Everything that doesn’t fit, he’ll sell.

“I’m basically going to be living as a non-American for a while,” Pranger, an OU alumnus, said. “In two weeks, I may start to be a completely different person.”

In two weeks, Pranger will head to Lesotho to start his tour of service with the Peace Corps and join a group of OU alumni who have volunteered in developing nations.

Laura Booher, Peace Corps recruiter, said 28 OU alumni are currently serving in the Peace Corps and 154 OU alumni have served in the past.

Attendance at recent informational sessions indicates that interest in the Peace Corps at OU is increasing, Booher said.

She said she usually expects about 20 people to attend her sessions, but she had about 50 students at an information session last month.

“OU is definitely the place that I recruit that has the most interest and is the most receptive,” Booher said.
Peace Corps

• The Peace Corps began in 1961 under the John F. Kennedy administration.

• More than 178,000 people have volunteered for the Peace Corps.

• Volunteers work on issues like AIDS education, information technology, environmental protection and more.
Source: www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm

She said the amount of interest is related to the size and diversity of the OU campus.

Ben Johnson, international and area studies senior, recently submitted his application to join the Peace Corps.

He said preparing to join the Peace Corps can be frustrating because Peace Corps volunteers are informed of their departure date only a month in advance.

Edwin Corr, associate director for the OU International Programs Center, said he served as a Peace Corps regional director in Colombia from 1966 to 1968.

“The Peace Corps was really just getting started,” Corr said. “When John F. Kennedy came in, he was very exciting to us, a fresh face. He seemed very idealistic at the time.”

The Peace Corps began in 1961 under the Kennedy administration.

At the time, Colombia was the second largest Peace Corps operation in the world, with 850 volunteers.

Corr said he oversaw programs involving rural and urban development, small business development, education and agricultural assistance programs.

“In some of the poorest barrios, one of the biggest problems was, if you hung your hand over the bed while sleeping, the rats might nibble on your fingers,” Corr said.

The Peace Corps seeks to bring skilled American workers to developing nations to provide an understanding of American culture and values to people in those countries, and to bring the culture of those people back to America, Booher said.

“Even though you may come from a family that is not at the highest end of the economic scale, you’re not poor,” Corr said. “When you see some of these people, you will know what poor is.”

Pranger searched Web sites for information about his new home and the amenities that will be available there.

“When I got my invitation, I went online to see what they would have available in that country,” Pranger said. “I realized quite a while ago that I was going to be doing government work, so it will probably not be as much fun and games as I want it to be.”

For years, Pranger sported a foot-long ponytail and a considerable amount of facial scruff. Today, he is trimmed and clean-shaven. He said the prospect of blending in with a new culture has forced him to make some lifestyle changes.

“I feel like there’s still kind of the hippie stereotype,” Booher said. “We’re working to provide a very diverse face of America.”

Booher said a wide variety of people volunteer with the Peace Corps, and they all leave with a new perspective.

“At my going-away party, my host father gave a toast the day before I left from Turkmenistan. He said, ‘We did not know what to expect with our new American daughter. She did not eat meat. She did not really speak Turkmen. But now we have made an international family,’” Booher said.

Booher said that besides a desire to serve, many Peace Corps volunteers participate because they are interested in careers in international affairs.

“If you’re a person who would like to work in international affairs … there is practically no better foundation you could acquire than two years as a Peace Corps volunteer,” Corr said.

Corr said he felt that to really understand another culture, people need to completely immerse themselves.

“I’ve plugged in at the top of society and I’ve been plugged in down at the bottom,” Corr said. “And you don’t understand the society if you just plug in at the Citibank.”

Johnson said he felt that spreading cultural knowledge was an also an important aspect of the mission of the Peace Corps.

“I think it’s very important that people in the rest of the world have a positive image of America,” Johnson said. “People’s view of America becomes polarized because either they do or don’t like Bush, or they think that America is an overbearing bully. Having people out there doing good things is beneficial to everyone.”

Pranger’s fiancee is already abroad with the Peace Corps in Turkmenistan. He said he is anxious to start his trip and start doing work that he feels will be a benefit to the world.

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

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Story Source: Oklahoma Daily

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