2007.02.28: February 28, 2007: Headlines: COS - El Salvador: Miami Herald: Peace Corps Volunteer Brendan McCleary has worked in El Salvador on environmental education activities with kids up to the sixth grade, launched an environmental club for middle-schoolers and led nature hikes and planted trees as part of beautification projects

Peace Corps Online: Directory: El Salvador: Peace Corps El Salvador : Peace Corps El Salvador: Newest Stories: 2007.02.28: February 28, 2007: Headlines: COS - El Salvador: Miami Herald: Peace Corps Volunteer Brendan McCleary has worked in El Salvador on environmental education activities with kids up to the sixth grade, launched an environmental club for middle-schoolers and led nature hikes and planted trees as part of beautification projects

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-249-83-39.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - 70.249.83.39) on Thursday, March 15, 2007 - 8:55 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps Volunteer Brendan McCleary has worked in El Salvador on environmental education activities with kids up to the sixth grade, launched an environmental club for middle-schoolers and led nature hikes and planted trees as part of beautification projects

Peace Corps Volunteer Brendan McCleary has worked in El Salvador on environmental education activities with kids up to the sixth grade, launched an environmental club for middle-schoolers and led nature hikes and planted trees as part of beautification projects

McCleary, an easygoing guy with a patchy beard and love of music, is based in Cantón Los Angeles -- a rural town in the eastern province of La Unión. Its 1,000 residents live off agriculture and livestock. A native of Vienna, Va., McCleary studied psychology and Spanish at the University of Virginia and spent a semester in Spain. He joined the Peace Corps after a recruiter visited campus. ''I could come here and earn practically nothing or stay in the United States and earn a little bit,'' McCleary said. ``I decided to come here and help people.'' A neighbor called McCleary ``a very good person.'' ''The most important thing he is teaching the kids is that education is important so that they can have opportunities,'' said Fidel Ventura, who owns a small grocery store nearby. Over the past year, McCleary has worked on environmental education activities with kids up to the sixth grade, launched an environmental club for middle-schoolers and led nature hikes and planted trees as part of beautification projects. He also is raising funds to build a basketball/soccer court for local youth. In his free time, he gives guitar lessons, strumming tunes by artists from Jamaica's Bob Marley to Mexico's Maná. But most of days are spent raising awareness about the importance of protecting a land that is slowly being rendered more barren by deforestation and drought. ''I would like to just improve the environmental conscience of young people, make them realize they have something they can protect here,'' said McCleary, who plans to study international relations after the Peace Corps.

Peace Corps Volunteer Brendan McCleary has worked in El Salvador on environmental education activities with kids up to the sixth grade, launched an environmental club for middle-schoolers and led nature hikes and planted trees as part of beautification projects

Peace Corps is welcomed in El Salvador

Americans have been lured to the Peace Corps for 45 years and El Salvador was one of the agency's earliest ventures.

BY NANCY SAN MARTIN
nsanmartin@MiamiHerald.com

LA UNION, El Salvador - On a parched corner of this Central American nation where searing heat and dust punish those who live here, Brendan McCleary leads a group of youngsters on a hike for an up-close look at the hemisphere's second-most deforested country.

''It's hot here, right? Why?'' McCleary, 24, asks the nodding children at a clearing in the sparse woods.

''Because there are no trees,'' several shout.

McCleary and Nathan Dollar, stationed at another community in the same region, are part of a reviving U.S. program that was launched by President Kennedy in 1961: the Peace Corps.

The agency rose to 15,500 volunteers in the mid-1960s, then dropped to about 5,000 in the Reagan era.

With little fanfare or publicity, the Peace Corps has grown again to some 7,750 volunteers, mostly single young adults involved in everything from health to agriculture assistance programs in 139 countries.

Once viewed as an agency that focused mostly on infrastructure needs like digging wells, the Peace Corps now concentrates on education, health, business development and environmental projects.

''The Peace Corps is less about building bridges and getting potable water,'' said Dollar, 25, from North Carolina. ``It's about human-to human-contact and capacity building -- human development on a grass-roots level.''

And where volunteers were once eyed with suspicion, sometimes even regarded as CIA agents, they are now widely embraced.

''We define being welcome on whether or not we feel safe in a country,'' said David D'Agostino Leavitt, a Peace Corps spokesman. ``In the countries we're in now, there is a comfortable marriage.''

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

The Peace Corps now clearly feels safe in El Salvador. More than 1,600 volunteers have served in this country. But the agency pulled out in 1979, amid a bloody civil war, and did not return until 1993. It currently has 156 volunteers in this small and largely poor nation.

For McCleary and Dollar, President Kennedy's inaugural words in 1961 -- ''Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country'' -- still inspire.

''As a United States citizen, I have it a lot better than many people in the world,'' Dollar said. ``We should, as U.S. citizens, give back.''

''By helping the rest of the world, you are helping your country,'' McCleary said.

Since their 27-month commitment began a year ago, Dollar and McCleary appear to have made a difference in the impoverished communities in which they live. Everybody seems to know them.

McCleary, an easygoing guy with a patchy beard and love of music, is based in Cantón Los Angeles -- a rural town in the eastern province of La Unión. Its 1,000 residents live off agriculture and livestock.

A native of Vienna, Va., McCleary studied psychology and Spanish at the University of Virginia and spent a semester in Spain. He joined the Peace Corps after a recruiter visited campus.

''I could come here and earn practically nothing or stay in the United States and earn a little bit,'' McCleary said. ``I decided to come here and help people.''

A neighbor called McCleary ``a very good person.''

''The most important thing he is teaching the kids is that education is important so that they can have opportunities,'' said Fidel Ventura, who owns a small grocery store nearby.

Over the past year, McCleary has worked on environmental education activities with kids up to the sixth grade, launched an environmental club for middle-schoolers and led nature hikes and planted trees as part of beautification projects.

He also is raising funds to build a basketball/soccer court for local youth. In his free time, he gives guitar lessons, strumming tunes by artists from Jamaica's Bob Marley to Mexico's Maná.

But most of days are spent raising awareness about the importance of protecting a land that is slowly being rendered more barren by deforestation and drought.

''I would like to just improve the environmental conscience of young people, make them realize they have something they can protect here,'' said McCleary, who plans to study international relations after the Peace Corps.

In El Chile, another small town about a 45-minute drive away, Dollar juggles a hectic schedule that includes teaching, meeting with community leaders and spearheading a group of elementary ``environmental guards.''

`BEAUTIFUL EXPERIENCE'

The Wilson, N.C., native double-majored in sociology and Spanish at Western Carolina University and worked for a nongovernment organization that helps migrant farmworkers before he signed up with the Peace Corps.

''Wow, my life is different here,'' the sweat-drenched American said between appointments. ``But it's a beautiful experience.''

Soft-spoken and with a bounty of energy, Dollar greets everyone with a smile. In exchange, he gets lots of handshakes from adults and hugs from children, who pronounce his first name as Na-TAHN. Many take part in his clean-up crews known as guardias ambientales.

''I decided to pick up trash because he asked us to and because he does it, too,'' said Ismary Fuentes, 13. ``He's strict, but he's a lot of fun.''

To get to work each day, Dollar must walk nearly a mile over a dirt road and splash across a narrow river. He teaches at both the elementary and high schools at the nearby town of El Carmen. He also holds classes in environmental protection, runs a recycling and reforestation program and helps out with a Community Development Association.

''A lot of times, I feel I'm oversaturated with work, but I figure that's why I'm here,'' Dollar said. ``I'm learning a lot more than I teach.''

Topping the list of community needs in El Chile is the construction of a bridge over the river that sometimes swells, leaving the community isolated. Dollar is helping the association find national and international organizations that could fund the project.

''We don't have a good street, and we don't have a bridge,'' a woman complained at a recent association meeting. ``All we want is to improve our lives.''

''With solidarity and unity, we can accomplish anything,'' Dollar counseled the crowd after announcing that Japan might come through with some funds. ``All I ask is that you please be patient.''

Both Dollar and McCleary will be leaving El Salvador at the end of the year.

''I wanted to do this while I was young because a lot of times . . . life gets in the way,'' said Dollar, who plans to return to school to get a Ph.D. in development sociology with a focus on Latin America. ``It's going to be weird to go back home -- a culture shock in reverse.''




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: February, 2007; Peace Corps El Salvador; Directory of El Salvador RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for El Salvador 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.

Peace Corps News Peace Corps Library Peace corps History RPCV Directory Sign Up

March 14, 2007: This Month's Top Stories Date: March 14 2007 No: 1074 March 14, 2007: This Month's Top Stories
Evacuated PCVs attend Festival on the Niger in Mali 23 Feb
Tom Bissell tells the story of how Vietnam came home 13 Mar
Mike Honda cites Japan's Sex Slavery 8 Mar
Donna Shalala co-chairs presidential commission 7 Mar
Sixth Anniversary of Disappearance of PCV Walter Poirier 6 Mar
Sam Farr was de-selected during Peace Corps Training 6 Mar
Elaine Jones would be good fit for NAACP President 6 Mar
Pat Waak re-elected chairwoman of Colorado Dems 5 Mar
Astronaut Mae Jemison was PC Medical Officer 4 Mar
Guy Consolmagno blends faith and science 3 Mar
Doyle Turns Down Federal Abstinence Money 3 Mar
Owen Cylke writes: Taxi in the Rain 2 Mar
Jody Olsen receives "Founderís Day" Award 2 Mar
Chris Dodd introduces PCV Empowerment Act 1 Mar
Michael O'Hanlon writes: Iraq Deserves One More Chance 1 Mar
An Excerpt from Jan Worth's Night Blind 28 Feb
David Harde sentenced for Medical Marijuana 28 Feb
Oscar winner Helen Mirren congratulated by RPCV husband 26 Feb
RPCVs distribute mosquito nets 25 Feb
Peter McPherson new Chairman of Dow Jones 21 Feb
Arabic speakers under-utilized in Homeland Security 9 Feb
Dr. J. Michael Taylor co- founded Konbit Sante 4 Feb

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

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: Miami Herald

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

PCOL36566
73


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.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: