Eric Knepper: I was off to Fiji in November, 1993 as part of Peace Corps Fiji 76 & Tuvalu 17

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By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, July 15, 2001 - 10:06 pm: Edit Post

Eric Knepper: I was off to Fiji in November, 1993 as part of Peace Corps Fiji 76 & Tuvalu 17

Eric Knepper: I was off to Fiji in November, 1993 as part of Peace Corps Fiji 76 & Tuvalu 17.

A short background about me.

This is my "life story" - a bit depressing that it all fits on one page... None-the-less here it is: Starting from the beginning is a bit too much - and overwhelmingly boring - so I'll start in 1988 when I graduated from Springfield High School (Springfield, IL): "Go Senators!"

I attended Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois from 1988 to 1992. I couldn't imagine a better college for me. Like many of my peers I was unsure of "what to do with my life" at that time. Augie allowed me to try out all sorts of things: I ended up with a double major in economics and accounting and minors in physics and computer science, and swam on the varsity swim team for four years. The highlight of Augie was the East Asian Term traveling throughout Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China for three months.

I applied to become a Peace Corps Volunteer as soon as I returned from the East Asian Term and worked as an accountant and computer network administrator for a small publishing firm in the Chicago area while I awaited their response. After an agonizing six months the Peace Corps informed me that they had an opening for me teaching physics in The Republic of Fiji. How could I turn down that offer?

I was off to Fiji in November, 1993 as part of Peace Corps Fiji 76 & Tuvalu 17
(the 76th group of PVCs to go to Fiji and the 17th PCV to go to Tuvalu).

As it turns out, the school I was assigned to, Ba Provincial Secondary School, didn't need a physics teacher and I ended up teaching economics and math instead. Ba Pro is in Lautoka, the second largest city in Fiji (Lautoka's population is about 30,000 or so). The typical Peace Corps "tour of duty" lasts two years but I extended my contract for an extra year to work for Junior Achievement in Fiji. During this extra year I wrote an economics textbook that is currently used in all of the high schools in Fiji. It was difficult leaving Fiji after living there for over three years but I finally returned to the USA in January, 1997.

Fortunately, a few months after returning from Fiji I was able to join the Augustana College East Asian Term Alumni traveling to Japan, China, and Hong Kong. We witnessed the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty! (photos and stories forthcoming)

That following fall of 1997 I started a Peace Corps Fellows program studying economics and community development at Illinois State University and graduated in May 1999 with a Master's degree in Economics. The most exciting aspect of this unique Master's program was the one year internship sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). During 1998 I worked in central Washington State for Heritage College and the Lower Yakima County Rural Enterprise Community (LYCREC) - you might notice that I avoided proclaiming that I was an intern during this particular summer, the summer when "that woman" Monica Lewenski tarnished the once-proud intern designation. The year-long program created partnerships between USDA Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities (EZ/EC) and local colleges and universities to increase community development efforts within the targeted communities. While in Washington I lived in a rural town called Zillah (population 2,235). (photos and stories forthcoming)

Not being one to sit still for too long, once I graduated I hit the road (or air) and spent a month in Egypt with a good friend who lives and works there. July 1999 was one of the hottest on record for the Chicago area - I spent the hottest parts of that summer in (relatively) cooler Cairo. A wonderful and exciting place to visit (photos forthcoming for this trip as well).

Currently I'm a graduate student in the Agricultural Economics Department of Michigan State University.

When I'm not at work, I enjoy reading and just about anything active - particularly scuba diving & snorkeling, biking, hiking, and kayaking.

And I'll try just about anything once including skydiving!
Which isn't as incredible an experience as you might think.
I prefer activities that involve more activity than just falling...

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