January 9, 2006: Headlines: COS - Nicaragua: Taunton Gazette: Alison Lima leaves for Nicaragua this week as a volunteer for the Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Nicaragua: Peace Corps Nicaragua: The Peace Corps in Nicaragua: January 9, 2006: Headlines: COS - Nicaragua: Taunton Gazette: Alison Lima leaves for Nicaragua this week as a volunteer for the Peace Corps

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Alison Lima leaves for Nicaragua this week as a volunteer for the Peace Corps

Alison Lima leaves for Nicaragua this week as a volunteer for the Peace Corps

Lima will spend two years and three months in Nicaragua as a community health educator, collaborating with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, Non-Government Organizations, rural health clinics and local community leaders to implement educational health programs in communities.

Alison Lima leaves for Nicaragua this week as a volunteer for the Peace Corps

Peace Corps offers world of opportunity for city grad
By ASHLEY LOPES Features Writer
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TAUNTON - No one is forgotten as 22-year-old Alison Lima extends her hand to communities all across the globe.

The 2001 Taunton High School valedictorian and graduate of Iowa State University follows the call of the needy as she leaves for Nicaragua this week as a volunteer for the Peace Corps.

"I have been wanting to do this for a while," Lima said. "It is the key to my future in medicine. I'm excited. I've been packing for three weeks straight."

In December 2005, Lima received a bachelor of science degree in Biology and International Studies with minors in Spanish and Anthropology, while maintaining a 3.6 grade point average.

She plans to go pre-medicine.

"I wanted to go into medicine, and I also decided that I wanted to work as a doctor's intern, and they both kind of fell into place after my sophomore year at Iowa," Lima said.

Lima, who is an active and dedicated member of her school and her community, involved in a long list of academic and civic programs, decided to add the Peace Corps to the list as a great way to provide the skills she needs for her area of interest.

"I went to an information meeting at a college, and just instantly fell in love with the Peace Corps and with what volunteers do," Lima said.

Lima will spend two years and three months in Nicaragua as a community health educator, collaborating with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, Non-Government Organizations, rural health clinics and local community leaders to implement educational health programs in communities.

The Peace Corps' main goal is delivering health education messages to the community through organizing health groups like mothers' groups and teen groups, and improving community education activities.

"I will be working in rural communities at a small health clinic educating people in the community on health," Lima said. "I will be working on improving hygiene, nutrition, adolescent health and maternal and child care."

Volunteers also typically work in areas including vaccinations, malaria, drug and alcohol abuse, youth issues and HIV/AIDS prevention.

What really drew Lima to the program was not only the opportunity to teach, but also to learn from different cultures.

"I want to work with developing nations," Lima said. "I need to know what it's like to work in different environments, and get a different perspective of daily life."

She added, "It's a great inter-cultural experience where they can learn about our culture, and we can learn about theirs."

This experience is nothing new for Lima, as she has spent her college life sharing her selfless deeds with the world.

"I have gotten the opportunity to study in places like Mexico, I worked in Chile, Belize, and the Republic of Georgia in Asia," Lima said. "I love to travel, so this is always an added bonus for me."

One of her more recent trips was a research internship she did last May at the Medical University in Tbilisi, Georgia, where she toured various medical, public health and research facilities to learn more about the medical care system there.

"We learned how health systems have changed since the Soviet breakup, and how their health care has developed since becoming independent from the Soviet Union," Lima said.

In Santiago, Chile, Lima took classes and conducted research on what causes pneumonia in children and their resistance to antibiotics.

"It was nice," Lima said. "Working in the lab and at the hospital I was able to see the affected children face to face and see how they reacted to the medicine first hand."

Studying abroad in Belize, Lima, organized the collection and delivery of medical supplies, donated by local Iowan clinics and pharmaceutical companies to two needy clinics in Belize.

In Mexico, she took courses in Spanish, and did an internship at a local hospital, all the while living with host family, which helped her pick up the language.

Lima was also the founder and coordinator of a Tsunami Relief Project at Iowa State University.

"It was very successful," Lima said. "We raised over $6,000 for the American Red Cross fund. We also organized a memorial on campus for the victims which hit home for many students."

As a student member of such organizations as the Taunton Chapter of the American Association of University Women, the Golden Key International Honor Society, and president and co-founder of the Student International Medical Aid Club, Lima's experience has gotten her ready for whatever the Peace Corps throws her way.

"My extracurriculars have helped me a lot," Lima said. "My experience leading student organizations and getting together for a cause have helped me to prepare for programs like this."

Though Lima has not even arrived in Nicaragua yet, she already has ambitious plans for the future and knows just where she is headed.

"When I come back I hope to go to medical school and public health school, doing a double degree, which should add one year to my med school," Lima said.

Cape Verdean and Portuguese, no matter where Lima goes, she tries to keep close ties to her roots, as she is part of a Latin American folklore dance group.

"I try to stay active in those communities. They don't have many of those in Iowa," Lima said.

Lima's father, Thomas Lima, is a Taunton firefighter, mother Joan Lima is a secretary at Taunton High School, and older sister Rochelle is a med student.

While Lima is gone, she hopes turn her trip into a learning experience not only for her but for students here as well.

"I'm trying to set up a pen-pal program with the history department at Taunton High School," Lima said. "This way I can write to them about my experiences in Nicaragua, and they can get my perspective." alopes@tauntongazette.com

©The Taunton Gazette 2006

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Story Source: Taunton Gazette

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