2007.03.05: March 5, 2007: Headlines: COS - Peru: The Evening Sun: Ryan Nelson goes to Peru with Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Peru: Peace Corps Peru: Peace Corps Peru: New Stories: 2007.03.05: March 5, 2007: Headlines: COS - Peru: The Evening Sun: Ryan Nelson goes to Peru with Peace Corps

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Ryan Nelson goes to Peru with Peace Corps

Ryan Nelson goes to Peru with Peace Corps

Through his work, Nelson hopes to either form an association of women weavers to start a marketable business of hand bags, wall hangings, table sets and other products, or work with a fish-farming project. "As far as the experience goes, I couldn't ask for anything better," he said. "It's really an unmatchable experience. I'm not saying that it's an easy job, as I have never been so challenged in my life, but it is extremely gratifying."

Ryan Nelson goes to Peru with Peace Corps

East Berlin goes to Peru with Peace Corps

By ASHLEY ADAMS
Evening Sun Reporter

Article Launched: 03/05/2007 10:11:47 AM EST

Ryan Nelson is far from home.

The 23-year old East Berlin resident longs for a plate of spaghetti with a fresh garden salad. He even misses eating his vegetables.

And the only thing Nelson can drive is a bicycle.

For the past eight months, Nelson has been living in Peru as a volunteer with the Peace Corps.

"I really didn't know much about the Peace Corps until a year and a half ago when I attended a recruitment meeting at Dickinson College, where I attended college," he said in an e-mail interview. "It sounded like a pretty amazing experience and seemed to be a pretty good match for me."

The Peace Corps was started in 1960 by then-Sen. John F. Kennedy to spread peace by sending volunteers to live and work in developing countries. More than 187,000 volunteers have been invited by 139 host countries to work on issues ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation.

Nelson is a small-business promoter in Peru. He works with various community members in business-related areas.

Nelson said he just finished teaching computer classes and will soon be taking on projects more in line with his field. He graduated from Dickinson College in 2006 with a degree in international business and management.

"Facing graduation, I was looking for something a bit different than the 9-to-5 daily routine," Nelson said. "I was also seeking something a bit more gratifying than making money. The Peace Corps seemed to offer me a way to use my degree in a more fulfilling way."

So, Nelson started the application process in December 2005 and left the states at the end of June 2006.

Nelson will be coming home in May for two weeks but won't return to his hometown again until September 2008.

In his first eight months in Peru, Nelson has become proficient in Spanish, overcome his fear of dancing in public and has grown accustomed to the starchy diet of rice, potatoes and yucca.

But it's not all fun and games.

Nelson keeps a blog, www.ryaninperu.blogspot.com, where he relates some of the different things he has experienced.

"I visited all of the classes in the local schools on the first day with a doctor from Lima," Nelson wrote in his blog dated Sept. 15, 2006. "She was screening the students for epilepsy. Apparently it is fairly common and is caused by eating undercooked pork. There are worms that spread throughout the body and actually in to the brain, eating holes in the tissue É good thing I've had pork for just about every breakfast to date!"

And Nelson has noticed numerous differences between life in the United States and life in Peru.

"This week is also the big festival week for my town, Tunal," Nelson wrote in his blog in September. "Thursday and Friday are the big days with dances and festivities. Today (Thursday) I participated in the 'running of the bull' which is a custom where the people walk a bull through every street in the town along with a small marching band. They dance and drink throughout the precession and when the final destination is reached they slaughter the bull. I was sure to take plenty of photos. It's times like this that it really hits me that I'm in Peru!!"

Through his work, Nelson hopes to either form an association of women weavers to start a marketable business of hand bags, wall hangings, table sets and other products, or work with a fish-farming project.

"As far as the experience goes, I couldn't ask for anything better," he said. "It's really an unmatchable experience. I'm not saying that it's an easy job, as I have never been so challenged in my life, but it is extremely gratifying."

The hardest part of being in the Peace Corps, Nelson said, is being so far from home and not seeing his family and friends.

Although he is uncertain what his future holds, Nelson said he has plenty of time to think about it.

But, in the meantime, Nelson reflects on what the experience has already taught him.

"What I do know is that this experience has taught me a lot about what is important in life," Nelson said. "I have yet to complete my first full year here in Peru, but already the 'American dream' looks less and less appealing.

"I know a lot of people who are making loads of money, working long hours but to what end? Life is really about relationships, something I think we often forget about in the states. Here that's all people have and you wouldn't believe how happy they are."

Contact Ashley Adams at aadams@eveningsun.com.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: March, 2007; Peace Corps Peru; Directory of Peru RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Peru RPCVs





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Story Source: The Evening Sun

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