2009.03.26: March 26, 2009: Headlines: COS - Chile: Secondary Education: The Star Press: For Pam Richards Peace Corps work in Chile translates to classroom for teacher

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Chile: Peace Corps Chile : Peace Corps Chile: Newest Stories: 2009.03.26: March 26, 2009: Headlines: COS - Chile: Secondary Education: The Star Press: For Pam Richards Peace Corps work in Chile translates to classroom for teacher

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For Pam Richards Peace Corps work in Chile translates to classroom for teacher

For Pam Richards Peace Corps work in Chile translates to classroom for teacher

It seemed that transitioning to teaching would be an unlikely jump for a Peace Corps worker. "It was an accident, totally an accident," Richards said. "I'd had other jobs, some good, some bad. I worked in India and Cuba. Then I got divorced and I had to stay with the kids more. Then a teacher at Wes-Del had a difficult pregnancy and I went, and the Spanish teacher turned to the principal and said 'Hire her now.' I filled in for the Spanish teacher. I had to change gears for all the levels of Spanish. I got a call from Yorktown a while later and they asked if I wanted to teach Spanish." There is another side to Richards, other than humanitarian and teacher. "I have horse 'pets,'" Richards said. "I play with them, brush them. I don't ride very much. I think horse people are in touch with nature in a different way than most people. (Horses Gus and Hannah) keep me in tune with nature."

For Pam Richards Peace Corps work in Chile translates to classroom for teacher

Stint in Peace Corps translates to classroom for teacher

By GWEN ASH

March 26, 2009

Caption: Yorktown High School Spanish teacher Pam Richards at her desk. (Michael McBride / The Yorktown Press)

YORKTOWN -- Hacking a path through an overgrown jungle with a machete is a common thought when people talk about the Peace Corps, but contrary to popular belief, the Peace Corps is a lot less like Indiana Jones and a lot more like volunteer work.
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Pam Richards, one of the Spanish teachers at Yorktown High School, was a member of the Peace Corps, and has brought her experiences into the lives of her students.

"I was a child of the '70's, Vietnam, and the 'Let's heal the world' mentality was still very active," Richards said about her choice to join the Peace Corps. "I really wanted to be part of a good change in the world."

Richards traveled to South America during her Peace Corps days.

"When I was in the Peace Corps, I only visited Argentina, Peru, and Chile, but I worked in Chile for three years," she said.

And work she did.

"I worked with fruit trees, gardening, and I taught some English," said Richards. "Chile is a lot like California. It's good weather for fruit all year. Every school had fruit trees to grow their own fruit, and I won about 500 fruit tree saplings from a lady in a wheelchair playing canasta. There's a way to take the branches from good fruit trees and attach them to old fruit trees so that the old tree will grow good fruit. That was my job," she said.

There was more than just work on Richards' journey to South America.

"I was on a bus in Chile, and there were a bunch of people on the bus going to a funeral. I looked over at the seat next to me, and there was this dead body!" Richards said, chuckling. "It was covered in a white sheet, just sitting there on the bus. I kept thinking to myself, 'If he falls over, I'm not picking him up.' It turns out, they were taking him to his coffin for the funeral, because in South America, they don't embalm, so bodies have to be in the ground within 48 hours."

That story is one of the many that Richards now tells students in her classes during storytime.

"Storytime connects the kids to themselves and I try to make learning personable." she said. "There are some people who are storytellers, and I am one."

It seemed that transitioning to teaching would be an unlikely jump for a Peace Corps worker.

"It was an accident, totally an accident," Richards said. "I'd had other jobs, some good, some bad. I worked in India and Cuba. Then I got divorced and I had to stay with the kids more. Then a teacher at Wes-Del had a difficult pregnancy and I went, and the Spanish teacher turned to the principal and said 'Hire her now.' I filled in for the Spanish teacher. I had to change gears for all the levels of Spanish. I got a call from Yorktown a while later and they asked if I wanted to teach Spanish."

There is another side to Richards, other than humanitarian and teacher.

"I have horse 'pets,'" Richards said. "I play with them, brush them. I don't ride very much. I think horse people are in touch with nature in a different way than most people. (Horses Gus and Hannah) keep me in tune with nature."

The most meaningful thing Richards wants her students to learn is to enjoy life.

"I want kids to know that they're at an amazing time in their life, and I want them to learn how to live, not just act and react," Richards said. "There are some kids that don't see the bigger picture. I joke about how I want one of my kids to save the polar bears, but I do. I want them to do something amazing."

Gwen Ash is a junior journalism student at Yorktown High School.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: March, 2009; Peace Corps Chile; Directory of Chile RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Chile RPCVs; Secondary Education





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Story Source: The Star Press

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Chile; Secondary Education

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