Fristin Brady answers call of the Peace Corps Bolivia

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Fristin Brady answers call of the Peace Corps Bolivia

Fristin Brady answers call of the Peace Corps Bolivia

Fristin Brady answers call of the Peace Corps Bolivia

Brady answers call of the Peace Corps

Amador grad headed for 'toughest job she'll ever love'

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Kristin Brady will be the only Peace Corps volunteer from Pleasanton when she leaves for two years in Bolivia on Jan. 22. But she'll be No. 117 to serve from the city during the Corps' 40 years of history.

"I've always enjoyed working with people and I wanted to give back in a sense," said Brady, 22, a 1996 graduate of Amador Valley High. "I knew I had practical skills and I just wanted to experience another country, another culture."

She traveled to Tulancingo, Mexico, in 1995 with a Pleasanton Sister-City group, and while a student at UC Davis she did a summer study abroad in Japan. Those experiences whetted her appetite for more overseas adventures.

"I knew I wanted to go out of the country and have a different kind of experience," Brady said. She also realized that a stint in the Peace Corps would help her gain practical skills for when she takes her place in the work world. She graduated from UC Davis in June, with a degree in Community and Regional Development and a minor in Spanish.

Brady sent her application to the Peace Corps in October of her senior year. "It was only a week or two before a recruiter called me and set up an appointment," she remembered. "He tried to get a feel if I really understood what I was getting into." He ended up nominating her for a program to go to Zimbabwe, where she would probably teach English, and left her with a stack of medical forms to complete.

Brady received an OK from the Corps, but the program in Zimbabwe fell apart, due to the political situation, and its 30 volunteers were reassigned. Brady's application was forwarded to the Latin American desk and in September she received her formal acceptance and an informational packet on Bolivia. She was happy to have an assignment where she could use her skills, both in community development and in Spanish.

"The sort of skills that the Peace Corps looks for are really driven by requests we get from the host nations," said Dennis McMahon, public affairs specialist in the San Francisco Regional Peace Corps office. "We also want a demonstration of strong communication skills and the ability to interact dynamically with other people."

Brady will stay in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for 11 weeks, living with a family and receiving extensive language training. After that, she will get her assignment, based on her skills and what is available.

Brady worked part-time at Clover Creek on Main Street until before the holidays. "I'm taking this month to get ready," she said. "I have to look two years into the future and decide what to take."

She said her parents are supportive, which, she has learned from less fortunate volunteers, is not always the case. But they lived in Morocco when they were first married so they understand the allure of overseas living, she said.

Going into 2001, the Peace Corps has 6,642 volunteers in 76 countries, an all-time high since it began its current record-keeping in 1970. It reached a low in 1982 with 4,559 volunteers. Since its founding in 1961, it has had 161,000 Americans work in 134 nations. Volunteers served in Bolivia from 1962-71, and resumed service in 1990.

"The majority of our applicants are recent college graduates but we do have a really large percentage of older people, mid-career and seniors," said McMahon. "We have no upper age limit. Many of the older people have amassed very valuable experiences, they have a lot to share." Students still in high school he refers to AmeriCorps, a national network of programs throughout the United States.

The Peace Corps also provides close-of-service counseling to help volunteers with the transition back to the United States. While in service they accumulate a readjustment allowance, which totals approximately $6,000 after two years, McMahon said.

McMahon said that about one in four applicants actually departs for Peace Corps service. "There can be medical restrictions, placement difficulties. Or they may not follow through the relatively long and arduous application process."

But Brady followed through. She will be one of 164 volunteers in Bolivia, carrying out President Kennedy's call to promote world peace and friendship by sharing American's greatest resource - its people. <@$p>

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Story Source: Pleasanton Weekly

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



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