2008.08.13: August 13, 2008: Headlines: COS - Kyrgystan: African American Issues: The Aurora Sentinel Daily Sun: Sharece Steadham returns after 2 years spent as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgystan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kyrgyzstan: Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan : Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan: Newest Stories: 2008.08.13: August 13, 2008: Headlines: COS - Kyrgystan: African American Issues: The Aurora Sentinel Daily Sun: Sharece Steadham returns after 2 years spent as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgystan

By Admin1 (admin) (70.135.11.140) on Tuesday, August 26, 2008 - 3:35 pm: Edit Post

Sharece Steadham returns after 2 years spent as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgystan

Sharece Steadham returns after 2 years spent as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgystan

Steadham was stationed in Osh, Kyrgyzstan's second largest city - which is close to East Pakistan. "It was a very diverse region with many ethnic groups," Steadham says. "Being a black female in a country where the majority of the people in the region have never seen a black person with the exception of being on TV or a magazine or a hip hop video. People were always touching my hair and asking how I did it. They would stop me and ask where in the world I was from."

Sharece Steadham returns after 2 years spent as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgystan

Halfway around the world and back

Aurora resident returns after 2 years spent in Kyrgystan

By Lawrence Washington
For The Aurora Sentinel

Caption: Sharece Steadham poses with her Shurdok, a traditional Kyrgyz rug hand made out of sheep's wool Aug. 11 in front of her home in Aurora. Steadham spent 25 months in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan. (Heather A. Longway/The Aurora Sentinel)

AURORA | Aurora resident Sharece Steadham, 31, has done what many Aurorans merely daydream about - making a difference in the world - making a difference in somebody's life who is less fortunate.

How so?

Steadham whose background is in music and physical education, recently spent two years in Kyrgyzstan as a Peace Corps volunteer specializing in youth development.

"I was working with street kids, orphans and was basically a consultant putting together programs that would educate the kids on HIV and AIDS," Steadham explains. "They've never seen anybody who looked like me. People would run up to me and take pictures, ask for an autograph. They thought I was related to 50 Cent, Muhammad Ali, or Michael Jackson - those were the few black people known there."

Joining the ranks of the Peace Corps is something that had always been in the back of Steadham's mind. Then a couple of her friends joined right out of college, punctuating the point.

"I don't know," Steadham says, "it had been sticking there and sticking there. Then things kind of worked out. I was working two different jobs right before I left, and both employers were really supportive when I told them that I was thinking about joining the Peace Corps for two years.

Why Kyrgyzstan?

"Well, I knew it was somewhere in Central Asia, but I wasn't sure where it was on the map," Steadham says. "They gave me three different choices of regions I could go to, and Central Asia sounded real interesting."

Steadham says that her other duties include working with children's rights and helping to work on their life skills. She adds that a big part of her service was exposing them to diversity in America as far as different people, and for a majority of it I was a representation of black people around the world.

Steadham had to learn Russian and some of the other local languages. However, all the country's business and physical work is conducted in the Russian.

"Kyrgyz is the national language," she says. "When I first got there, there were three months of training that we had to do - it was very intensive, eight hours a day of just Russian learning. And other things such as culture training and what the Kyrgyzstan culture is like."

Steadham was stationed in Osh, Kyrgyzstan's second largest city - which is close to East Pakistan.

"It was a very diverse region with many ethnic groups," Steadham says. "Being a black female in a country where the majority of the people in the region have never seen a black person with the exception of being on TV or a magazine or a hip hop video. People were always touching my hair and asking how I did it. They would stop me and ask where in the world I was from."

Steadham's plans for the moment is to find a job, and to attend grad school at Denver University in their international studies program next fall. She says that she didn't come home for the two years she spent in Kyrgyzstan, so she's spending a lot of time with her mother and father, sisters and grandmother.

"I just learned that the world is kind of a small," Steadham says, "and there's a lot of perspective out there that I think people really should take the time to see. It was really nice to go somewhere else and be on the outside to get a different perspective, and a different reality. I love America and I really appreciate it I very blessed to be in this country."

Steadham says upon arriving home. People kept asking her, "are you glad to be back in the real world?"

I gained more appreciation of what I have here" she says. "But being able to look across the world a see that there are a lot more things going on than Britney Spears. And a lot more things to be concerned about."




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: August, 2008; Peace Corps Kyrgystan; Directory of Kyrgystan RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Kyrgystan RPCVs; African American Issues





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Story Source: The Aurora Sentinel Daily Sun

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kyrgystan; African American Issues

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