2006.12.17: December 17, 2006: Headlines: COS - Bolivia: Imperial Republican: Peace Corps Volunteer Alisa Woofter accomplishes goals in Bolivia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Bolivia: Peace Corps Bolivia : Peace Corps Bolivia: New Stories: 2006.12.17: December 17, 2006: Headlines: COS - Bolivia: Imperial Republican: Peace Corps Volunteer Alisa Woofter accomplishes goals in Bolivia

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-249-83-39.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 9:56 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps Volunteer Alisa Woofter accomplishes goals in Bolivia

Peace Corps Volunteer Alisa Woofter accomplishes goals in Bolivia

Woofter's job turned into being a micro-enterprise consultant. She formed and worked with an artisian group that made and sold the incredibly beautiful ancient art of weaving. She also consulted with people wanting to set up small businesses. The villagers grow crops and tend sheep for their own existence. There isn't much left over to sell for a profit. "We were selling textiles in my community. It was very grass roots, not mechanical, no accounting records," she said. Woofter formed the weavers into an association. They then marketed their textiles in cities and abroad.

Peace Corps Volunteer Alisa Woofter accomplishes goals in Bolivia

Local Peace Corps volunteer accomplishes goals in Bolivia

By Carolyn Lee

The Imperial Republican

The work that Imperial native Alisa Woofter accomplished as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia the past two years may translate into her profession in the future. Woofter returned to the United States this month, and is determining her next steps.

Woofter packed a computer, sleeping bag, solar shower and clothes into her suitcase in August of 2004 and headed down to what she calls the poorest country in South America. At the time, she didn't know if she would be assigned to a city or village.

Her mission was to work to expand tourism. The country is trying to develop tourism, especially hiking and outdoor activities.

She ended up assigned to the village of Cahdelaria, in the Tarabuco region, which is the home of indigenous Inca Indians, who speak some Spanish, but mainly Quechua, the official language of the Inca empire.

The village is dusty and barren, 10,000 feet above sea level in the Andes. Transportation from the nearest city, Sucre, is by a wood-sided truck, shared with many other people.

The trip sometimes takes seven hours, sometimes more if a road is washed out.

Woofter's home was a dorm-sized room without running water. One end was her kitchen/living area, with a small refrigerator and stove, and the other end was a bedroom/closet.

The 2000 Chase County High School graduate said she was lucky in that she was the only person in the village with a flushing, outdoor toilet.

She really didn't feel too deprived, though. She was busy, and everyone else had so little.

Woofter's job turned into being a micro-enterprise consultant. She formed and worked with an artisian group that made and sold the incredibly beautiful ancient art of weaving.

She also consulted with people wanting to set up small businesses. The villagers grow crops and tend sheep for their own existence. There isn't much left over to sell for a profit.

"We were selling textiles in my community. It was very grass roots, not mechanical, no accounting records," she said.

Woofter formed the weavers into an association. They then marketed their textiles in cities and abroad.

Another accomplishment was the construction of a museum in Cahdelaria. It was built to show the history of weaving, plus to sell finished products to tourists.

Each associate had to volunteer 10 days of work on the museum. It was made of adobe.

The museum is only open when a tourist bus comes through the village. "Our community is very small," Woofter noted, "so everyone knows when the tourists are there."

She said it would be pointless to keep the museum open on a set schedule.

The association and museum were two goals Woofter set for herself once she was living in the village.

"It's nearly impossible to set goals before you're there. You need to integrate in the community, identify the needs, establish and accomplish the goals," she said.

Woofter said accomplishing goals may not mean leaving concrete work behind, like a museum. "You can affect someone in the community just by being a role model. There are so many other ways to measure success," she said.

She became very close to her neighbors, Woofter said. Her host family was her family. People always came to her for advice. "I was so incredibly respected. They were looking to me for help. They elevated me." Woofter found that astounding, considering her age and "gringo" status.

She didn't have best friends her own age, "mostly because they can't relate to issues I'm dealing with." She said no one in the community was educated, "so that changes the way you communicate and the relationships you develop."

Although she speaks Spanish at a "comfortable" level, she didn't develop it beyond what she already knew. Some Incas speak a mangled Spanish which Woofter picked up. She also mastered some Quechua phrases.

She knew she was part of the community during an event that she describes as "If my friends and family could see me now."

A NGO, or Non-Government Organization, had built a cement dam at a neighboring village. Every time there is an event like that, or the opening of the textile association's museum, there must be an inauguration ceremony.

Woofter and her fellow villagers bundled into a truck, drove way up high in the Andes, and past the neighboring village to the dam site. Foreign donors attended, murmuring "Who is the gringo?" as Woofter mingled with the crowd.

After the ceremony, big pots of food were cooked outside, with each diner supplying his or her own bowl.

"It got to be dark, time to go back, and the men had been drinking and were pretty drunk," she said. They packed into the truck, along with the band they had brought for the ceremony, and started down the mountain.

When passing the neighboring village, a bunch of villagers decided to climb on the truck and continue celebrating.

"So we were packed like cattle, with everyone in traditional clothing, driving in the middle of the fields. We were stuck in the truck and when we'd hit a bump everyone would fall down."

"When you do stuff like that and feel comfortable, that's integration," Woofter laughed.

She feels that the Peace Corps is going about economic development and promoting peace and cultural understanding in poor countries in the right way, although you always see things you'd like to improve.

"When I've lived there for two years, they see me as a representative of the U.S. The Peace Corps should be doubled or tripled and the world would only be better," she said.

After two years in South America's poorest country, Woofter looks at people differently.

"I would encourage people to travel. It is so important for your children to see other cultures."

She would also encourage communities in the United States to help people feel welcome, whatever their racial background, to respect them for their efforts to make a better life, and to learn from them.

For now, Woofter is searching for a position in International Sustainable Development work, which is hard to locate in the Midwest. That means she'll continue to help communities and countries make small business programs work "on the ground."

She's looking forward to Christmas and a tree, something she's missed. She was overwhelmed at Thanksgiving. "That food could have fed my entire village for awhile," she said.

"It's amazing how easy you get accustomed to the simple things we have here that aren't available there."

Thanks to Woofter, though, the Tarabuco region now has an association that markets its own textiles, and a museum that showcases them for tourists, drawing even more income to the region.

Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: December, 2006; Peace Corps Bolivia; Directory of Bolivia RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Bolivia RPCVs

When this story was posted in March 2007, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Subscribe to Peace Corps News Date: January 14 2007 No: 1059 Subscribe to Peace Corps News
Don't miss our new web site, Peace Corps News, for the latest news about the Returned Volunteer community and what is going on with the Peace Corps around the world. Subscribe to our news feed to get Peace Corps news delivered to your desk as it happens. Then visit the Peace Corps Library, History of the Peace Corps, the worldwide RPCV Directory or leave a message for the RPCV community on the RPCV Bulletin Board.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

February 23, 2007: This Month's Top Stories Date: February 24 2007 No: 1070 February 23, 2007: This Month's Top Stories
Hill announces Draft Accord in North Korea Nuclear Talks 12 Feb
Dodd builds connections in New Hampshire 19 Feb
PCVs accused of counterinsurgency activities 19 Feb
Harris Wofford declares support for Obama 18 Feb
Tschetter becomes the first Director to visit Malawi 16 Feb
New Fellows Program at Yale University 15 Feb
Sidney Slover helps start donut production in Honduras 16 Feb
Kevin O'Donnell's Daughter and Granddaughter are PCVs 14 Feb
Joe Krueger helps restore Liberia's timber industry 14 Feb
Peace Corps Hippies 13 Feb
Maryland RPCVs to screen "American Idealist" on March 3 9 Feb
Aaron Kase writes: Moon over Africa 8 Feb
Margaret Krome writes: 'Rogue nations' aren't only threat 8 Feb
Shays says he would Support McCain 8 Feb
A Mistrial for Lieut. Watada 8 Feb
Chris Matthews drops the F-bomb 8 Feb
RPCVs - Believe it or not 07 Feb
White House requests $334 Million for Peace Corps 5 Feb
Carol Bellamy writes: We need an Earth Corps 3 Feb
First Group of PCVs arrive in Cambodia 2 Feb
Mae Jemison wears red for charity 2 Feb
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts 30 Jan

February 2, 2007: This Month's Top Stories Date: February 2 2007 No: 1063 February 2, 2007: This Month's Top Stories
Peace Corps Volunteers in Guinea Are Safe in Mali 28 Jan
Lee Wilbur writes: Muslim media images are shocking 31 Jan
Gregory Acker plays African drums for 3rd Goal 31 Jan
"Jimi Sir" now available for free internet viewing 30 Jan
Is Civilian Reserve just another Bush throwaway line? 30 Jan
Tony Hall writes: What North Korea really wants 30 Jan
Paul Tsongas remembered on 10th anniversary 28 Jan
Ben Bell attends Washington march against Iraq war 27 Jan
First Peace Corps Volunteers to Serve in Cambodia 26 Jan
Phil Hardberger sees 'golden years' ahead for San Antonio 26 Jan
Doyle wants smoking ban in Wisconsin 24 Jan
Mark Udall to run for Colorado Senate Seat 17 Jan
Meredith Walsh works with Burmese refugees 16 Jan
Tschetter spends MLK Day with Habitat for Humanity 15 Jan
Robert Buckley founds Himalayan Healers 14 Jan
James Rupert writes: An aging king in Thailand 14 Jan
Michael O'Hanlon writes: A Skeptic's Case For the Surge 14 Jan
Senator Dodd opposes Iraq surge 11 Jan
Pat Waak celebrates 2008 Democratic Convention 11 Jan
Al Kamen writes: The six rules for Congressional Junkets 10 Jan
Bill Moyers slams Bush on global warming 10 Jan
Psychological biases favor conflict rather than concession 1 Jan

The Peace Corps Library Date: July 11 2006 No: 923 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory or leave a message on our Bulletin Board. New: Sign up to receive our free Monthly Magazine by email, research the History of the Peace Corps, or sign up for a daily news summary of Peace Corps stories. FAQ: Visit our FAQ for more information about PCOL.

Chris Dodd's Vision for the Peace Corps Date: September 23 2006 No: 996 Chris Dodd's Vision for the Peace Corps
Senator Chris Dodd (RPCV Dominican Republic) spoke at the ceremony for this year's Shriver Award and elaborated on issues he raised at Ron Tschetter's hearings. Dodd plans to introduce legislation that may include: setting aside a portion of Peace Corps' budget as seed money for demonstration projects and third goal activities (after adjusting the annual budget upward to accommodate the added expense), more volunteer input into Peace Corps operations, removing medical, healthcare and tax impediments that discourage older volunteers, providing more transparency in the medical screening and appeals process, a more comprehensive health safety net for recently-returned volunteers, and authorizing volunteers to accept, under certain circumstances, private donations to support their development projects. He plans to circulate draft legislation for review to members of the Peace Corps community and welcomes RPCV comments.

He served with honor Date: September 12 2006 No: 983 He served with honor
One year ago, Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul (RPCV Kenya) carried on an ongoing dialog on this website on the military and the peace corps and his role as a member of a Civil Affairs Team in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have just received a report that Sargeant Paul has been killed by a car bomb in Kabul. Words cannot express our feeling of loss for this tremendous injury to the entire RPCV community. Most of us didn't know him personally but we knew him from his words. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. He was one of ours and he served with honor.

Meet Ron Tschetter - Our Next Director Date: September 6 2006 No: 978 Meet Ron Tschetter - Our Next Director
Read our story about Ron Tschetter's confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that was carried on C-Span. It was very different from the Vasquez hearings in 2001, very cut and dried with low attendance by the public. Among the highlights, Tschetter intends to make recruitment of baby boomers a priority, there are 20 countries under consideration for future programs, Senator Dodd intends to re-introduce his third goal Peace Corps legislation this session, Tschetter is a great admirer of Senator Coleman's quest for accountability, Dodd thinks management at PC may not put volunteers first, Dodd wants Tschetter to look into problems in medical selection, and Tschetter is not a blogger and knows little about the internet or guidelines for volunteer blogs. Read our recap of the hearings as well as Senator Coleman's statement and Tschetter's statement.

Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance Date: August 19 2006 No: 964 Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance
The purpose of Peace Corps' screening and medical clearance process is to ensure safe accommodation for applicants and minimize undue risk exposure for volunteers to allow PCVS to complete their service without compromising their entry health status. To further these goals, PCOL has obtained a copy of the Peace Corps Screening Guidelines Manual through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and has posted it in the "Peace Corps Library." Applicants and Medical Professionals (especially those who have already served as volunteers) are urged to review the guidelines and leave their comments and suggestions. Then read the story of one RPCV's journey through medical screening and his suggestions for changes to the process.

The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again Date: July 31 2006 No: 947 The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again
The LA Times says that "the Peace Corps is booming again and "It's hard to know exactly what's behind the resurgence." PCOL Comment: Since the founding of the Peace Corps 45 years ago, Americans have answered Kennedy's call: "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." Over 182,000 have served. Another 200,000 have applied and been unable to serve because of lack of Congressional funding. The Peace Corps has never gone out of fashion. It's Congress that hasn't been keeping pace.

PCOL readership increases 100% Date: April 3 2006 No: 853 PCOL readership increases 100%
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Imperial Republican

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Bolivia


By Walter R Poirier (mail.leominster-ma.gov - on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 8:17 am: Edit Post

It has been exactly 6 years today since my son was declared "officially" missing by Peace Corps. Since then it has been a constant battle to insure that he is not forgotten by Peace Corps. Very little communication has been coming out of Peace Corps since the House hearing on Volunteer safety in 2004. It took some arm twisting by the Massachusetts senate delegation and our 5th District congressman to even get Peace Corps to keep Walter on the active list. As of this year, there has been no communication from the new Director regarding our son's status. Come to think of it, there has been no communication from him at all. The Poirier family is still hoping against hope that Walter will be found, but there is little if anything being done by Peace Corps it seems at this time.

Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.