2006.05.17: May 17, 2006: Headlines: COS - Niger: Seattle Post Inteiligencer: Emile Ross chose to volunteer for the Peace Corps, using her language skills in Niger, a former French colony in West Africa and one of the poorest nations in the world

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Niger: Peace Corps Niger : The Peace Corps in Niger: 2006.05.17: May 17, 2006: Headlines: COS - Niger: Seattle Post Inteiligencer: Emile Ross chose to volunteer for the Peace Corps, using her language skills in Niger, a former French colony in West Africa and one of the poorest nations in the world

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Emile Ross chose to volunteer for the Peace Corps, using her language skills in Niger, a former French colony in West Africa and one of the poorest nations in the world

Emile Ross chose to volunteer for the Peace Corps, using her language skills in Niger, a former French colony in West Africa and one of the poorest nations in the world

"I'm posted in a village of 2,500 people, which is a relatively large village. ... The project I'm working on is adding more wells to the garden space in my village. This will encourage cold-season (growing of) lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, carrots and onions, to balance out the vitamins of the grains that they're completely dependent on."

Emile Ross chose to volunteer for the Peace Corps, using her language skills in Niger, a former French colony in West Africa and one of the poorest nations in the world

Peace Corps worker to speak

By JOHN IWASAKI
P-I REPORTER

After years of studying French and living in France, Mercer Island native Emilie Ross had three opportunities to continue studying or working there.

Instead, she chose to volunteer for the Peace Corps, using her language skills in Niger, a former French colony in West Africa and one of the poorest nations in the world.

Often confused with Nigeria, which lies to its south, Niger is a sub-Saharan country afflicted by droughts.

Ross, 26, lives in the village of Tanka-Lokoto. "When you put something down in the sand and pick it up, (Tanka) is the trace left behind," she said. "Lokoto means a sneaky hiding place."

Ross, the daughter of KIRO radio talk-show host Dave Ross, is midway through a 27- month commitment. She will speak at 7 tonight at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church at 4805 N.E. 45th St. in Seattle.

On why she is in Niger:

"When I signed up for the Peace Corps, a big component was learning the native language and working with people. I specifically requested French West Africa to learn about other cultures that use French."

On her daily life:

"I'm posted in a village of 2,500 people, which is a relatively large village. ... The project I'm working on is adding more wells to the garden space in my village. This will encourage cold-season (growing of) lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, carrots and onions, to balance out the vitamins of the grains that they're completely dependent on."

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On how she has changed:

"I think I have much more patience for different cultures. ... I have a whole different concept of time. Nigeriens are very laid-back. They still need to know why not to cut so much wood down or why to save their land. It's a different way of cooperating with people."

On her biggest reward:

"It takes time to get used to anything. No Peace Corps volunteers says, 'I love this place; I'm going to stay forever.' Everyone thinks in the beginning, 'Maybe it's the wrong place.'

"I never regretted the decision. I knew I just had to be patient. ... The more comfortable you are in your surroundings, the harder to leave in the end.

"My villagers know I'm leaving in two years. But they're denying it. The Nigeriens are very trusting people. They treat their guests as their king."
P-I reporter John Iwasaki can be reached at 206-448-8096 or johniwasaki@seattlepi.com.





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Story Source: Seattle Post Inteiligencer

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