2006.09.29: September 29, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ecuador: Roanoke Times: As a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, Katie Jones has taught English, health, cooking, nutrition and sex education classes in the community, works in the community garden and is helping with a community banking project. As a visitor, she has traveled around the country in her free time

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ecuador: Peace Corps Ecuador : The Peace Corps in Ecuador: 2006.09.29: September 29, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ecuador: Roanoke Times: As a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, Katie Jones has taught English, health, cooking, nutrition and sex education classes in the community, works in the community garden and is helping with a community banking project. As a visitor, she has traveled around the country in her free time

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-250-247-216.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - 70.250.247.216) on Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - 10:00 am: Edit Post

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, Katie Jones has taught English, health, cooking, nutrition and sex education classes in the community, works in the community garden and is helping with a community banking project. As a visitor, she has traveled around the country in her free time

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, Katie Jones has taught English, health, cooking, nutrition and sex education classes in the community, works in the community garden and is helping with a community banking project. As a visitor, she has traveled around the country in her free time

To keep in touch with family and friends, she has created a monthly newsletter, The Patch, that she e-mails to them with updates about life in Pachijal. She even includes information on blunders, like when she left a lit candle near her DVDs and burned the cases. "I love the creative outlet that The Patch gives me," she wrote. Almost 100 people -- including Katie's father, Bob Jones of Troutville, and her sister, Jodie, who lives in Salem -- receive the newsletter, and they in turn give Katie Jones updates about life in America. She doesn't know how many people actually read the newsletter -- some occasionally let her know they enjoyed it -- but Katie Jones said she loves writing the stories and designing the layout.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, Katie Jones has taught English, health, cooking, nutrition and sex education classes in the community, works in the community garden and is helping with a community banking project. As a visitor, she has traveled around the country in her free time

GETTING TO KNOW ECUADOR: 'PRICELESS'
Sep 29, 2006 - Roanoke Times
She has no indoor plumbing. Her running water is outside, so dishes and laundry are washed in the yard. Her shower is a water hose that hangs above the top of the outhouse.

She may not be living in luxury, but Glenvar High School graduate Katie Jones is making a difference.

Jones, 24, joined the Peace Corps in 2005, after graduating from Virginia Tech. Since then, she has been working in Pachijal (pronounced Patch-EE-hall), a town of 20 families -- about 130 people -- in Ecuador.

As a Peace Corps volunteer, Jones has taught English, health, cooking, nutrition and sex education classes in the community, works in the community garden and is helping with a community banking project. As a visitor, she has traveled around the country in her free time.

"I spend a lot of time with the kids of Pachijal," Jones wrote in an e-mail. "I tutor a few kids in math and reading. We color together, play with Play-doh, draw pictures and just hang out."

The work coincides with Peace Corps goals of cultural exchange, Jones wrote. The Peace Corps is an agency that was started by former President John F. Kennedy. Volunteers travel abroad, where their responsibilities range from teaching about environmental preservation to promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. The agency's volunteers represent America through their work, and they, in turn, learn more about the people of their host country.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more college students have volunteered for the Peace Corps upon graduation, according to the Peace Corps Web site. For Jones, volunteering was a way to travel abroad -- something she was unable to do while at Virginia Tech, where she earned a degree in human nutrition, foods and exercise with a concentration in community and international health. She initially didn't know much about the South American country, but after researching it, "I was sold," Jones wrote.

"I've always wanted to speak Spanish fluently, to travel, to use my degree," she wrote. "I love Latin culture, and what better way to do all the things I wanted, help other people and find a little direction in my life, than through service in the Peace Corps?"

The service also offered Jones a chance for adventure. In her spare time, Jones has been able to tour Ecuador. She also regularly travels to Quito, the capital of Ecuador and site of the country's Peace Corps headquarters.

Her community, Pachijal, is on the edge of the Rio Pachijal, "where people bathe, wash their clothes, fish and swim," Jones wrote.

"The main work for the men here is cutting Heart of Palm plants for export. Women typically stay at home to cook, clean, and raise their children," she wrote. "With 4 or 5 children, washing clothes by hand can easily take all day."

Integrating into the community means Jones has also helped her neighbors shuck corn and chop and haul wood. In a year she's become well-liked and respected by the villagers, said Lindsey Jones, Katie's mother and a South Roanoke resident.

"She's never met a stranger," Lindsey Jones said. "She loves people, and I think it's just her personality to be adventurous, to try something, and to want to help."

"I realize now that ... I have earned the respect of my community," Katie Jones wrote. "They confide in me, they ask my advice and seek my opinion."

She isn't teaching hundreds of children in a formal setting, but Katie Jones said she uses any opportunity -- including bathing in the river -- to teach lessons on bacteria and personal hygiene.

When she returns to the United States, Katie Jones said she believes the people of Pachijal, will be "talking about the gringa gigante (giant gringa) Katie long after I am gone."

Katie's personality helps her get along with the Pachijal people and to stay upbeat about living in the community, Lindsey Jones said. She and her boyfriend, Larry Bowman, recently visited Katie in Pachijal. They stayed at a hotel in Quito for most of the time, but eventually "bit the bullet" and spent a night in Pachijal, Lindsey Jones said.

The visit was "overwhelming and unbelievable," she said.

"I couldn't fathom the fact that she was living in that environment," Lindsey Jones said. The village, she said, has "weathered roads and clapboard houses. ... Some have washers and dryers, some have nothing.

"Just seeing the condition she lives in, I couldn't do it," Lindsey Jones said.

But modern conveniences aren't far for Katie Jones. She can travel to nearby cities to check her e-mail and use her cellphone. She also has electricity in her home, so she can watch DVDs on her laptop. To keep in touch with family and friends, she has created a monthly newsletter, The Patch, that she e-mails to them with updates about life in Pachijal. She even includes information on blunders, like when she left a lit candle near her DVDs and burned the cases.

"I love the creative outlet that The Patch gives me," she wrote. Almost 100 people -- including Katie's father, Bob Jones of Troutville, and her sister, Jodie, who lives in Salem -- receive the newsletter, and they in turn give Katie Jones updates about life in America. She doesn't know how many people actually read the newsletter -- some occasionally let her know they enjoyed it -- but Katie Jones said she loves writing the stories and designing the layout.

"It's funny because so many people back home want to downplay their lives in the U.S.," she wrote. "For me, some days I just want to hear what you ate for lunch ... how nice your hot shower was or stories about your daily routine ... it helps the homesickness."

Katie Jones will return home for Thanksgiving, and she has another year in Ecuador. She already has become more fluent in Spanish, her mother said.

In the meantime, the Peace Corps experience has been rewarding and immeasurable, Katie Jones said. The application process is long, and "the sacrifices and inconveniences can be overwhelming," she wrote, "but at the end of the day, to be talking about life with an Ecuadorian girl swinging in my hammock or telling stories and shucking corn in a neighbor's kitchen is a reward that is absolutely priceless."

Visit http://www.peacecorps.gov for more information about the Peace Corps.





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Story Source: Roanoke Times

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