Peace Corps worker to teach in Benin

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Benin: Peace Corps Benin : Web Links for Benin RPCVs: Peace Corps worker to teach in Benin

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, July 02, 2001 - 12:30 pm: Edit Post

Laid Off Internet Worker Andy Bosselman Peace Corps to teach in Benin

Peace Corps worker to teach in Benin

Peace Corps worker to teach in Benin

Last modified at 10:49 p.m. on Monday, June 4, 2001

By Sarah Schulz

After Andy Bosselman was laid off from his Internet job in October 2000, he decided he needed a change of scenery.

He traveled in Europe in November and December before deciding he wanted to live overseas. He then applied to the Peace Corps in January and was assigned to teach English in Benin, Africa.

"People tell me I must be brave or courageous," he said. "But I'm more afraid of having a boring corporate job."

In a press release Bosselman, 26, wrote he believes people and diversity can lead to powerful achievements.

"Most foreign policy is between governments," he said in the written statement. "But the Peace Corps is between everyday people. I will be a person from America working directly with people in Benin. My ideas and methods will be different from those of my Beninese peers, and we'll undoubtedly learn from each other."

The Grand Island native moved to California after he graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1997. He eventually got a job at in San Francisco.

He said the Internet company appealed to him because it attracted employees "who don't fit into a normal work environment."

He said he worked 60 to 80 hours a week, could wear whatever he wanted and worked with talented, brilliant people.

"They were really good to us," he said. "Now that the dot.coms are gone, there aren't a lot of alternatives."

Bosselman said he attended a Peace Corps informational meeting when he returned from Europe and later filled out an application. He said he qualified for teaching English partly because of his previous experience teaching English to Bosnian refugees in San Francisco.

He said he was nominated for the Benin position and accepted it in April.

"I think Africa is the place I knew the least about," he said.

Teaching is one of the more defined positions, he said. Some volunteers are sent on community development assignments, and it can be difficult to determine what they are supposed to do, he said.

Bosselman said he will be gone for 27 months, the first three of which are on-site training. After the training he will be transferred to his post, although he said he didn't know if he would be in a city or rural area.

"Everything is very uncertain," he said. "You have to be very flexible."

Bosselman left Grand Island Monday for Philadelphia to do last-minute preparations, such as getting shots. He will leave the U.S. on Wednesday.

His mom, Jan Rockwell, said it was hard to say goodbye.

"I really admire him, and I'm very proud of him," she said. "He's always been very compassionate and helpful to other people. It's going to be a tremendous experience for him personally. I hope he comes back with a better understanding of the country where he's going."

She also said she plans to visit him when he gets settled.

His dad, Fred Bosselman Jr., said the send-off was sad.

"I'm a little nervous, but it's something he chose to do," he said.

Fred Bosselman said his son packed everything for his trip into two bags, which were required to weigh less than a total of 80 pounds.

Andy Bosselman said his supplies included clothing, toiletries, a camera, film, CDs, tapes to learn French, AA batteries, a short-wave radio and several books, including an almanac.

Fred Bosselman said he hopes his son gains self-worth from helping others and gets better at speaking French.

Benin was a French colony and is now populated by several ethnic groups, each with its own language, Andy Bosselman said. He will have an English-speaking Benin counterpart to help him with daily duties, such as going to the bank and shopping.

The Peace Corps provides each volunteer with a living stipend which will pay for food and living expenses, he said. The stipend will allow Bosselman to live at the financial level of the locals. The Corps also gives volunteers a readjustment allowance when they return to the U.S., he said.

According to the Peace Corps' Web site, an average of 2,200 volunteers are serving in 28 African countries where they contribute to grassroots developments in education, business, the environment, heath, water sanitation and agriculture. At the same time, the volunteers learn the languages, cultures and customs of the African people.

Bosselman said he will miss his friends and family, the California weather, ice cream and chocolate chip cookies. On Sunday he said he was slightly nervous.

"I don't really know what to expect," he said. "I'm hoping it makes me stronger and willing to do things that are difficult."

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.