Life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Russia

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, July 07, 2001 - 6:16 pm: Edit Post

Life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Russia

Life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Russia by Michele ClenDening

Life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Russia by Michele ClenDening

U.S. Peace Corps

Established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the United States Peace Corps relies on the dedication and commitment of American men and women of all ages and ethnic groups, who volunteer to spend two years working to provide assistance to nations around the world. The three goals of the Peace Corps, as originally set by the U.S. Congress, remain unchanged:

1) To help the people of interested countries meet their needs for trained men and women.
2) To help promote a better understanding of the American people on the part of the people served.
3) To promote a better understanding of other people on the part of the American people.

Peace Corps Volunteers first began working in the Russian Far East in 1992. The Russian Government requested Peace Corps Volunteers with expertise in business to work with public and private organizations. Government organizations, educational institutions and private enterprises in Primorski and Khabarovski Krais and Sakhalin Oblast requested the assistance of Peace Corps Volunteers to assist in the process of conversion to a free market system. In 1995, the Peace Corps program was expanded to include English Language Teachers and Environmental experts and Business educators.
There are currently approximately 70 Peace Corps Volunteers in the Russian Far East.

Life as a Peace Corps Volunteer

I first decided to explore the possibility of being a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) during the summer of 1996. I was taking summer school classes, working full-time and wondering what I would do after graduation from Mercer University. I looked to the Internet for information about the Peace Corps and finally called to receive an application. I decided to apply because I have always been interested in travelling, and I wanted to find a way to use my skills to help other people. Also, I knew that I had a very limited view of the world. We, as Americans, are very fortunate, but we take our lives of freedom and priviledge for granted. I felt like I needed to experience a different kind of life and gain a broader world outlook. I want to be a part of the solution to so many of the problems that plague our world today.

This is a birthday celebration with my host family during Pre-serviceTraining in Birobidjan, a city in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. My training group had two months of training there, and we all stayed with host families during that time. We had intensive Russian language training as well as technical, cultural and medical training. Living with a host family was a great way to learn about Russian culture, experience Russian hospitality and practice Russian.

I would like to give forewarning to any potential Peace Corps applicants: the application process can be very long and tedious!!! Every PCV I have met has had a different experience, though. I sent in my application in October, had my interview in November and soon after received a recommendation to become a PCV. My process was held up by concerns over previous medical conditions (they are very serious about this). I finally received my assignment to Far East Russia in May 1998, and I was scheduled to leave on July 18. This date was pushed back to the beginning of August after a delay in obtain our visas. I had orginally thought that I would go to a Latin American country given my knowledge of the Spanish language, but I am very glad that I was placed here. I will probably never again have the opportunity to live within a community that is in the midst of such a transition.

This is my training group, RFE Group VI, on October 3, 1997, the day we were sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers. The ceremony was held at the Philharmonic Theatre in Birobidjan.
I formed very close friendships during training with other Volunteers. This is me with Agnes Lee, a Volunteer from California. She is an English teacher in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast.
Being a PCV can be very rewarding, frustrating, lonely and wonderful all in one day. It is a challenge to be the only American in a small town far from everything that I have ever known. However, the people here are warm and open and always take care of me. In addition, I have a great site. I have lots of freedom in my job, and my colleagues are always looking for new ideas. Currently, we are working on a project with other teachers in the city to open a foreign language resource center for the region. We have made a grant request for funding, and we are looking for donated materials. This takes quite a bit of work, but it is exciting to see the process unfold and to see the whole community come together in common goal. I began Spanish classes this winter, becoming the only Spansih teacher in a secondary school in the region. The students are really enjoying the opportunity to learn a new and interesting language. I've also begun cooking and baking with the students. They love brownies, sugar cookies and squash bread! Fruit salad has been a big hit in the entire town. We just began computer classes as well at the Linguistic School. They are learning about the basics right now, but soon we will start working on the Internet on a regular basis. This summer I will be leading a three-week day camp at the school. We will experiment with drama, cooking, writing a newspaper, singing and other cultural actvities. My work hours are often long, and I find that work does not end even on weekends, but hard work is part of being a PCV.

The Volunteers in the Russian Far East come
from varied backgrounds, but we all support each other.
My best days come when my students learn and I feel like I am making a positive impact on this community. Progress and success are not also evident, though, and it is difficult to get through some of those grey, icy days here. I can honestly say that this is where I want to be now (especially now that everything is green again!). I am living in a rapidly changing society, learning about a rich culture, meeting amazing people and studying a colorful language (yet incredibly hard!). Peace Corps has provided me this unique opportunity, and I am very greatful. Please write me if you have questions about being a Peace Corps Volunteer or living in Russia. Also, let me know if you or your group is interested in establishing a cultural exchange with my students.

Other Volunteers came to visit during winter holidays. We took a trip to Amurk's museum where we were given a tour by Ivan Denilov, who is working on exhibit about the U.S., the Peace Corps and my life.

Michele ClenDening, U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

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By Baris Aytac ( on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 11:37 am: Edit Post


Dear Sir / Madam;

We were an organization named Kayra International Education and Human Resorces Organization, we established in Ankara /Turkey in 1996. We were working in there and our boss turn over us this company.

We find experienced personnel for hospital and health sector. We have been coordinating social activities with center of rehabilitation, handicapped communites. We deal with this organizations with experienced volunteers. Also we support visa to Russian and Europe.
We made an agreement with Kursk State University for course. We meet some problem about visa procedure for student and other bussinessmen. We would like to find visa supporter in Russia.

We have found out your community in web page. We believe that your community professional works about method of processing visa. Turkey’s
There is not any community as yours so our experienced volunteers are not better than yours. That’s why we believe that our experienced persons ( psychologist, expert of progress children, nurse, personnel of tecnical health, dancer, teacher of music and physical education, cook, expert of handwork ...etc.) will gain more experiences in your community. We want to contact with you long term.

We look forward to hear from your answer as soon as possible.

Your sincerely
Department of Voluntary Organization Manager Barış Aytaç

Tahil Pazari Mahallesi Adnan Menderes Bulvari
Erkal Apartmanı B Blok no 7/ 31
07040 Antalya / Turkey
0090 543 593 24 77
0090 555 252 41 96
FAX: 0090 242 243 70 21

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