Paul Joseph Dowling's Peace Corps service in the Czech Republic

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, June 23, 2001 - 7:35 am: Edit Post

Paul Joseph Dowling's Peace Corps service in the Czech Republic



Paul Joseph Dowling's Peace Corps service in the Czech Republic

Paul Joseph Dowling's Peace Corps service in the Czech Republic

DESCRIPTION OF PEACE CORPS SERVICE

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INTRODUCTION:

After a competitive application process stressing applicant skills, adaptability and cross-cultural sensitivity, Paul Joseph Dowling began Peace Corps training in the Czech Republic on June 14, 1995, and successfully completed a ten week pre-service training program in Jihlava. The training included 240 hours of Czech language instruction and cultural orientation plus approximately 100 hours of technical sessions for learning about the Central European economic environment and techniques for business assistance and teaching in the Czech Republic. As a trainee, he orgainzed the use of a computer classroom at the Jihlava school, instituted an e-mail transfer system for his 50 colleagues, and facilitated a seminar on Internet access in the Czech Republic.

Mr. Dowling was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer on August 31, 1995. During his entire Peace Corps Service he worked as a lecturer and advisor at The Institute of Economics and Management Studies (IEMS) in Moravska Trebova, which is a branch campus of the Faculty of Information Technology in Hradec Kralove. He reported to the director of the Institute, Ing. Vladimira Hakova and to the dean of the IT Department, docent Jaroslava Mikulecka.

During a three-day mid-service training seminar in June 1996, Mr. Dowling completed the Logical Framework Planning course outlining a structured procedure to plan, implement, manage, and assess group projects. He also attended an additional weekend of language training in September 1996 and throughout his Peace Corps assignment he worked with a Czech language tutor for approximately 30 hours.

SITE HISTORY:

Moravska Trebova is a small historical town on the Bohemian/Moravian border, with a reported population of 12,000 (although this total likely includes some of the surrounding villages). The area was primarily agricultural. During the time Mr. Dowling served with the Peace Corps (1995-1997), the region around Moravska Trebova had some of the lowest average wages in the country and one of the highest unemployment rates. The single major industry in the town was textile manufacturing which was in decline.

IEMS began operation in 1994 as a state-funded, three-year bachelor program, for students who had graduated from Czech gymnazium (high school), specializing in financial management and tourism management and economics. It was under the guidance of the Department of Information Technology which is a large, well-established Czech University about 40 miles away from the site chosen for IEMS. During itís first year, IEMS had 50 students and used rooms at the reconstructed museum in Moravska Trebova to hold classes. During the academic year 1995-96, the school moved into space provided by the town, and another 42 students were added to the enrollment. After remodeling during the summer break, the school admitted the final group of 45 students for the 1996-97 school year.

ASSIGNMENT DETAILS:

Mr. Dowling was assigned to a full-time teaching position for two academic years: 1995-96 and 1996-97. He taught the compulsory, one-semester Marketing Introduction class to all the second year students during each of the two years. He also taught an optional Promotion class each year during the semester when he wasnít teaching the Marketing course (total of four hours of class time per week). In the English Language curriculum, he taught Business Communication and Business English two hours each week to all students in each grade (total of eight hours of class time per week) using case study analysis for the third year students. He helped establish standards and guidelines for the Business English Program.

Once a week for two semesters, Mr. Dowling traveled to the parent university in Hradec Kralove to conduct a succession of two-hour teacher training seminars. The purpose was for professional development and to give the faculty an opportunity to practice their English language skills. Topics of the seminars facilitated by Mr. Dowling centered around teamwork and group dynamics such as: how to hold effective meetings, group decision making, leadership skills, and using student groups in education.

Every Tuesday evening during both school years, Mr. Dowling also facilitated a two-hour English Conversation class for adults with advanced language skills. On the average, there were 8 - 12 people each week. Six members of this class were local English teachers.

Once a week for three semesters, Mr. Dowling traveled by bus to Svitavy (about 15 miles) to work with interested students from a business high school. He helped this small group of young people (usually five to eight teenagers) to practice English skills. They met in a classroom provided by a private foundation named "Nadace Pliva". This non-profit foundation also sponsored cash prizes for a stock market game organized and run by Mr. Dowling for the students of IEMS.

Mr. Dowling cooperated with USAID and Project HOPE to bring 240 new donated business textbooks to the school (three titles in multiple copies with study guides for classroom use and single copies of forty titles). Because of this large delivery of books, IEMS prepared a new library room for student and public use. The school administration purchased many Czech language business texts for the library as well.

Using $5000 in grant money from USAID through the Peace Corps AKCE project, Mr. Dowling purchased computer equipment (specifically: a server, network cards, and cabling) for a local area network at IEMS. He also bought a modem to connect the network with a local Internet provider. The network was intended to allow students and faculty from the remote rural location to use e-mail for correspondence and research.

During the last nine months of his Peace Corps service, Mr. Dowling was the primary editor of the monthly Czech Peace Corps Volunteer newsletter NAZDAR. He collected stories, photos, and other volunteer contributions into an eight to fourteen page format and traveled monthly to Prague to copy and distribute the newsletter.

In September of 1997, following a two-month sojourn in the United States, Mr. Dowling returned to the Czech Republic as a Crisis Corps Volunteer to help the Czechs with economic and psychological recovery after the disasterous summer floods.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

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