2011.02.24: February 24, 2011: Edie Sternberg was a Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa between 1967-1969

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Samoa: Peace Corps Samoa : Peace Corps Samoa: Newest Stories: 2011.02.24: February 24, 2011: Edie Sternberg was a Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa between 1967-1969

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Edie Sternberg was a Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa between 1967-1969

Edie Sternberg was a Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa between 1967-1969

"In 1961, when I was finishing sophomore year in high school and Dar his sophomore year in engineering at Iowa State, he announced to his family that he was interrupting his studies to go to Africa with the Peace Corps," wrote Sternberg, who spent most of her childhood in rural Macoupin County, where her father was superintendent of the Palmyra-Northwestern School District. "This stunned his family, who were poor and very proud of their son for working his way through college. "When my grandmother wrote and told my family about Dar's decision, I wrote back, asking her to tell his family that I would like to learn about his experiences and hoped he would write to me." Long, detailed letters about Dar's experiences, which sometimes included black-and-white snapshots, followed for Sternberg. Those descriptions so impressed her that, as she finished her college degree, she decided to apply to be a Peace Corps volunteer.

Edie Sternberg was a Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa between 1967-1969

Overseas volunteers tell Peace Corps stories

By TAMARA BROWNING
THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER

Posted Feb 24, 2011 @ 11:01 PM

Caption: Edie Sternberg, shown here in one of the greenhouses at Starhill Forest Arboretum in Petersburg, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa between 1967-1969. Photo by David Spencer/The State Journal-Register.

Edie Sternberg

YEARS OF SERVICE: 1967-69
PLACE OF SERVICE: Western Samoa, South Pacific
CURRENT RESIDENCE: Petersburg

The "boy next door" to Edie Sternberg's grandmother in rural Iowa helped Sternberg discover her passion for the Peace Corps.

Four years younger than the man named Dar, Sternberg knew of him because she and her sisters spent a couple of weeks each summer during her childhood with their grandmother.

"In 1961, when I was finishing sophomore year in high school and Dar his sophomore year in engineering at Iowa State, he announced to his family that he was interrupting his studies to go to Africa with the Peace Corps," wrote Sternberg, who spent most of her childhood in rural Macoupin County, where her father was superintendent of the Palmyra-Northwestern School District.

"This stunned his family, who were poor and very proud of their son for working his way through college.

"When my grandmother wrote and told my family about Dar's decision, I wrote back, asking her to tell his family that I would like to learn about his experiences and hoped he would write to me."

Long, detailed letters about Dar's experiences, which sometimes included black-and-white snapshots, followed for Sternberg. Those descriptions so impressed her that, as she finished her college degree, she decided to apply to be a Peace Corps volunteer.

Sternberg was assigned as a secondary math and science teacher in Western Samoa.

Among Sternberg's most memorable experiences involved another "boy next door" of sorts - Phil, one of the Peace Corps volunteers whom Sternberg and a group of female teachers visited on another island during a monthlong school break.

"About halfway into our trip, we were walking into the beautiful white sand coastal village of Papa where Phil was an agriculture volunteer. Phil was the only foreigner living in the area," Sternberg wrote. "It was early afternoon and we were without doubt the first group of foreign women ever to visit the village

"Word quickly went out to Phil, and he came to greet us and introduce us to the family with whom he lived. In Samoan custom, we were fed and entertained by the village until well past our usual bedtime."

At bedtime, sleeping quarters were arranged in a process that included Phil's host family's few possessions being removed from their thatched-roof, open-air house and three "rooms" being created by stringing ropes just under the roof and hanging sheets from ceiling to floor.

Phil's sleeping mat was placed in one section, a lighted kerosene lamp in the middle section and four sleeping mats for the female visitors in the third section.

"Then we were escorted to our beds, each one being told exactly where to sleep. We assume that most of the village sat sentinel overnight outside the house," Sternberg wrote.

"Phil and the other four of us remain good friends to this day, and whenever we get together, we laugh about this experience, wondering whether Phil was the object of admiration or scorn for not leaving his mat during the night."




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: February, 2011; Peace Corps Samoa; Directory of Samoa RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Samoa RPCVs





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Story Source: The State Journal Register

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Samoa

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