2011.03.06: March 6, 2011: Susan Drissi served in the Peace Corps from 1978 to 1982 in Barbados and in Tunisia

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Susan Drissi served in the Peace Corps from 1978 to 1982 in Barbados and in Tunisia

Susan Drissi served in the Peace Corps from 1978 to 1982 in Barbados and in Tunisia

Drissi said she distinctly remembers seeing an advertisement in "Time" magazine when she was in sixth grade. It featured a dyslexic child and said that Peace Corps volunteers could help a child with those problems. In Barbados, she worked in a privately funded school teaching children with learning disabilities from ages 3 to 21. The school was in a two-story home, with her classroom under the steps, with four desks and 13 students. The students only had slates and chalk. She learned her job was not only to teach the students, but also mentor the teachers and help fundraise. Back home, St. Edward Catholic Church assisted the cause by sending her boxes of school supplies notebooks, pencils, pens and spelling books. "I would not be surprised that even this many years later, some of it would still be used," said Drissi, especially the books and spellers. She also found another way she could help the children of the island by starting a birth to 3 years old program. Mothers would come to the 21 year old for help with a baby not sleeping, crying all the time or other problems. "For some reason, people thought I'd know this stuff," Drissi said with a chuckle. After getting approval for the program, the Peace Corps director requisitioned her a motor bike to travel the island assisting its residents and their children.

Susan Drissi served in the Peace Corps from 1978 to 1982 in Barbados and in Tunisia

Special exhibit planned for local Peace Corps volunteers

By Marianne Gillespie

Chillicothe Times-Bulletin

Posted Mar 06, 2011 @ 10:30 AM

[Excerpt]

Chillicothe Public Library Director Susan Drissi is one resident who served in the Peace Corps from 1978 to 1982. She served two stints, one in Barbados and one in Tunisia. She even may return to the corps someday.

Drissi said she distinctly remembers seeing an advertisement in "Time" magazine when she was in sixth grade. It featured a dyslexic child and said that Peace Corps volunteers could help a child with those problems.

When in high school, she applied. The corps looked for teachers and nurses, and due to her squeamish nature, nursing would not be an option. While volunteers are taken at age 18, she realized she did not have anything to offer the corps.

Instead, she went to college to become a teacher, and once the bill for the school integration of students with disabilities passed, she changed to studying special education.

Her junior year at college she reapplied and was accepted. After finishing her degree, she began her adventure overseas, but not without passing a physical, getting her passport and completing all the details. Peace Corps volunteers spend time in orientation, shopping and taking cultural classes for where they are located as well.

In Barbados, she worked in a privately funded school teaching children with learning disabilities from ages 3 to 21.

The school was in a two-story home, with her classroom under the steps, with four desks and 13 students. The students only had slates and chalk. She learned her job was not only to teach the students, but also mentor the teachers and help fundraise.

Back home, St. Edward Catholic Church assisted the cause by sending her boxes of school supplies notebooks, pencils, pens and spelling books.

"I would not be surprised that even this many years later, some of it would still be used," said Drissi, especially the books and spellers.

She also found another way she could help the children of the island by starting a birth to 3 years old program.

Mothers would come to the 21 year old for help with a baby not sleeping, crying all the time or other problems.

"For some reason, people thought I'd know this stuff," Drissi said with a chuckle.

After getting approval for the program, the Peace Corps director requisitioned her a motor bike to travel the island assisting its residents and their children.

She longed to be off the island, she said, and was ready for a change. She was accepted to teach in Nicaragua, but a civil war broke out and the volunteers could not go to the country.

Instead, she chose Tunisia over Indonesia and islands. She taught in a government school for mentally handicapped children. Not only did the children have disabilities, some could have behavioral, vision or other problems that made them not fit into society, Drissi said.

Her years in the Peace Corps taught her a few things.

"You should never take anything for granted, and people are the same no matter where you are," said Drissi.

Now one of Drissi's children, Aacia, wants to serve as well in the Peace Corps, and was bit by the bug around the same age as her
mother.

"I'm very proud of her. She's listened to the fact that there's so many places to go, people to see, things to do, and you better do it while you're young."

Different from a vacation, Drissi said, "You're never going to forget these people that you live with."

And she met all kinds - "People who resent you, are curious, love you, think you walk on water, are suspicious - it's fun to see if you can change their minds."




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: March, 2011; Peace Corps Barbados; Directory of Barbados RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Barbados RPCVs; Peace Corps Tunisia; Directory of Tunisia RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Tunisia RPCVs





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Story Source: Chillicothe Times-Bulletin

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

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