2009.04.01: April 1, 2009: Headlines: COS - Fiji: Older Volunteers: Statesman Journal: Retired teacher David Phelps ready for Peace Corps service in Fiji

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Fiji: Peace Corps Fiji : Peace Corps Fiji: Newest Stories: 2009.04.01: April 1, 2009: Headlines: COS - Fiji: Older Volunteers: Statesman Journal: Retired teacher David Phelps ready for Peace Corps service in Fiji

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Retired teacher David Phelps ready for Peace Corps service in Fiji

Retired teacher David Phelps ready for Peace Corps service in Fiji

"I spent a month just roaming around India a self-guided tour," he said. "The U.S. has the best friend in India. The people I met there are some of the nicest people you would ever run into. I expected to see a lot of poverty, and did see a little, but I also saw some of the nicest folks in the world." This time David Phelps will learn about Fiji folks, while Audrey Phelps keeps house and home and takes care of "Runt," the Phelps cat that David recalled was "peanut sized" when he entered the household but is about "half the size of me now." During his two-year Peace Corps stint, David Phelps plans to use his first year's vacation (two days accrue each month) to return to Salem and help out with spring yard work. The second year he plans for Audrey to join him so they can explore the Australia and New Zealand. "I'm packed and ready to go," Phelps said. "He's probably better prepared than most of the volunteers in their 20s," Lartique said. Lartique said the Corps has targeted older, baby-boomer Americans since September 2007.

Retired teacher David Phelps ready for Peace Corps service in Fiji

Retired teacher ready for Peace Corps trip

David Phelps, 77, offers experience that makes him an asset to group

By Justin Much Statesman Journal

April 1, 2009

Caption: David Phelps, 77, of West Salem is joining the Peace Corps with a 2 1/2 year trip to Fiji. Phelps is among the Peace Corps' oldest volunteers. Photo: Kobbi R. Blair

David Phelps has been retired for 19 years, and lately he's been itching to find something different to do.
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That urge, reinforced by interests he's harbored over time, led Phelps to the Peace Corps. Phelps' wealth of experience led the Peace Corps to open its arms.

Ask the 77-year-old Salemtowne resident about his scheduled May trip to Fiji as a Peace Corps volunteer, and Phelps will tell you: "That's right, they take old people."

With his humor Phelps obliquely makes it clear that "old" is a relative term. His ambitions resemble those more often ascribed to someone a half-century younger. But his experience is a coveted asset.

"We're really happy to get older Americans into our ranks because they bring a wealth of skills and experience," said Peace Corps acting Press Director Laura Lartique. "That experience allows us to get a broader reach into the places we serve."

Currently, that "reach" is 76 countries, via 7,876 volunteers. The oldest current volunteer is 79. Eighteen is the youngest eligible age, while the average age is 27, slightly older than the foreign students Phelps taught years ago as an Oregon State University Health Education professor. That's when he began brewing his dreams of overseas travel.

"I've thought about it quite a bit actually," Phelps said. "Way back in the '80s I had a couple of students from Ethiopia who would ask me, 'Why don't come to Ethiopia?' I said 'When I retire I will.' "

By the time Phelps retired in 1990, Ethiopia was not a viable travel option given changes in its political environment. He did travel overseas, most notably a half-dozen times to various locations in Southeast Asia and a memorable visit to India.

"I'd love to live in India, but my wife (Audrey) doesn't see it that way," said Phelps, who grew up in Salem and worked as a health outreach professional in rural Alaska, a rural Oregon schoolteacher and a medical school educator in Nebraska before OSU.

"I spent a month just roaming around India a self-guided tour," he said. "The U.S. has the best friend in India. The people I met there are some of the nicest people you would ever run into. I expected to see a lot of poverty, and did see a little, but I also saw some of the nicest folks in the world."

This time David Phelps will learn about Fiji folks, while Audrey Phelps keeps house and home and takes care of "Runt," the Phelps cat that David recalled was "peanut sized" when he entered the household but is about "half the size of me now."

During his two-year Peace Corps stint, David Phelps plans to use his first year's vacation (two days accrue each month) to return to Salem and help out with spring yard work. The second year he plans for Audrey to join him so they can explore the Australia and New Zealand.

"I'm packed and ready to go," Phelps said.

"He's probably better prepared than most of the volunteers in their 20s," Lartique said.

Lartique said the Corps has targeted older, baby-boomer Americans since September 2007.

The age 50-plus set comprises about 5 percent of the Corps' total volunteer force, but applications in that group have increased 40 percent within the past year.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: April, 2009; Peace Corps Fiji; Directory of Fiji RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Fiji RPCVs; Older Volunteers





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Story Source: Statesman Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Fiji; Older Volunteers

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