World Wise Schools has matched up Peace Corps Volunteer Julia H. with American TESOL Institute for a two-year exchange of ideas, stories, pictures, and artifacts that help ATI students in the classroom learn about the people, geography, environment, and the culture of the world.
Hey ATI students! Mwa la la po? (how are you all in Oshiwambo, the local language). My name is Julie and I'm currently a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Namibia in Southern Africa and will be here for 2 years. I arrived in Namibia in August when I completed a two-month training program in a town called Okahandja. The training consisted of medical, safety, technical, cultural and language sessions from 8:30 to 5 everyday during the week and sometimes even on Saturdays! There were 45 Americans with us from all over the US since the beginning and we spent all that time together so you can imagine we all became pretty good friends. While in Okahandja, we all lived in different neighborhoods with host families so it was a really good introduction to Namibia and its people and culture.
After 8 weeks as Peace Corps trainees in Okahandja, we swore in as volunteers on October 16 and moved to our sites the next day! The volunteers in our group are spread out throughout the entire country and the majority of our group are English, Science, or Math teachers since we are all education volunteers (there are also health volunteers in Namibia). I am a bit of a special case because although technically I am lumped in with the education volunteers, I actually am not a teacher at a school. I am an ICT Volunteer (Information and Communications Technology) and am working at a community library at my site. Of our group, there are four ICT Volunteers and only two of us won't be at schools.
So now that you have the background, I can tell you a little bit about my site, which I have been at now for two weeks! I was placed in a small town called Omuthiya in Owamboland which consists of four regions in the Northern part of the country. Omuthiya was recently proclaimed a town and is definitely in the PROCESS of developing. I kind of feel like I have the best of both worlds here since I do have some of the amenities of a town but also live 4km off the main road (about an hour's walk) in a village. I definitely mean *some* amenities since there is no grocery store here and I have to travel 80km to my shopping town of Ondangwa to buy food! I am living on a traditional Owambo homestead with a host family who are really awesome. A homestead is a collection of huts and houses owned by one extended family and surrounded by a ton of land. My Meme and Tate (Mother & Father in Oshiwambo) are older and their kids are all grown and have moved away but there are several Namibian students (or learners, as they are called here) who live here and help out because of the homestead's proximity to local schools. Additionally, there are several farmers who also live and work here. I have my own little 4-room concrete house on the homestead and there is no electricity or running water. There is a water tap in a different section of the homestead so I am able to fetch water whenever I need it. A lot of other volunteers on homesteads have bucket showers and pit latrines but I am lucky enough to have a flush toilet and (cold!) shower which are both located in another little house on the homestead.
My job is still pretty new which means I'm still getting the hang of things and figuring things out but I'm really liking it so far. I am currently helping to open a new library in town which has included setting up a computer lab there, helping to move in furniture, facilitating setting up the internet, and organizing and shelving books. Organizing the books is what my days mostly consist of right now. It's very time consuming! I can't wait for the library to actually be open. I have lots of ideas for what I want to do there when community members start using it!
So that's a little snapshot of my life right now. It's all very new and exciting and I'm really liking it! Where are some of the places that you all will be teaching? What are some of your reasons for wanting to teach abroad?? I'd love to hear about you guys!! Feel free to e-mail with any questions - firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll do my best to answer you as quickly as I can. Talk to you soon!!
Beninese teacher earns Mandela Washington Fellowship
WASHINGTON ? Emignogni Mahtoundji Noe Rousseau, a long-time counterpart to Peace Corps volunteers in Benin, was honored with the esteemed Mandela Washington Fellowship for his work educating Beninese youth.
Peace Corps Education Volunteer Conner Swan met Rousseau in the fall of 2017, when both were teaching English in Niaro, a rural community in Benin. Rousseau was Swan?s Peace Corps counterpart, a person in a volunteer?s host community who works alongside the volunteer.
Almost a year and a half later, Swan had nominated him for the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a State Department funded program that provides 700 Sub-Saharan African leaders the opportunity to attend a United States college or university and support for professional development after they return home. Rousseau received the fellowship and is now in the United States at Virginia Tech University.
?Rousseau is a remarkable example of the potential and capabilities of the Beninese people,? said Swan. ?In a country where few people have the opportunity to receive a formal education beyond a grade school level, Rousseau has earned his high school diploma, teaching certificate and master?s degree ? all by the age of 25 ? and has chosen to apply himself to create positive change in his home country?.
As a Peace Corps counterpart, Rousseau partnered with Peace Corps volunteers on local projects, like taking students to the National English Spelling Bee in Porto Novo, the capital city, running an after-school English club and writing a Peace Corps Partnership Programs grant to fund and construct two new classrooms at the school.
?In a place with little to no teaching resources, Rousseau engaged his students with creative songs, dances and games,? Swan continued. ?He used interactive techniques to help his students learn and understand.?
Education is the Peace Corps? largest sector, comprising 42% of all volunteers. Since 1961, more than 45,000 education volunteers have served in 131 countries across the globe. Volunteers work in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools, teaching math, science, and conversational English, and serve as resource teachers and teacher trainers. Currently, approximately 3,000 Peace Corps education volunteers teach in 48 countries around the world.
WASHINGTON?With over 200 million youth around the world living on less than $1 a day, Peace Corps is working to strengthen long-term health, education and economic outcomes for young people. Since its inception in 2010, youth in development has become the Peace Corps? third-largest sector comprising 13 percent of volunteer positions in 12 countries.
In 2019, approximately 2,400 volunteers in the agency's youth in development sector will reach over 171,000 young people with training and activities focused on life skills, gender equity, healthy living, financial literacy and more. Working at the community level in small towns and rural areas, volunteers coordinate with schools, community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations and governments to support youth with the necessary knowledge, skills and experiences to become healthy and engaged citizens.
?Volunteers serving in the youth in development sector support young people on a one-to-one basis,? said Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen. ?They transform lives through leadership, working to ensure young people have the chance to succeed in every field, from education to business to public health. One of the many exciting elements of the Peace Corps service is that every volunteer, regardless of sector, can make these crucial connections with youth in their communities.?
In 2018, youth in development volunteers reached over 54,000 girls from Armenia to Guatemala through leadership and entrepreneurship trainings. ?I really feel like I can be a leader in my community and make a change,? said Ayesha, a youth club member in Botswana who works with her local Peace Corps volunteer. ?Now I know I can go out and try a lot of different things and I will be successful.?
Around the world, Peace Corps volunteers build a foundation of success for the next generation. Ashley Pinamonti of Spring Mills, Pennsylvania, is currently serving as a youth in development volunteer in the Dominican Republic. ?My favorite part about the youth in development sector is its flexibility. It has allowed me to adapt my work to suit the community?s needs and has given me the opportunity to work with so many inspiring people,? Pinamonti said. ?I am looking forward to coming back a few years from now to see how much the community has progressed and to share some cafecitos (coffee) with all of the people who have touched my life in these two short years.?
View open positions in the Youth in Development sector here.
WASHINGTON ? Peace Corps Response Volunteer Donovan Gregg, 31, of Beaverton, Oregon, died following a car accident July 23 in Rwanda.
Donovan, who trained English teachers at a university in Kigali, served in Peace Corps Response with his wife of eight years Jessica Gregg. The Greggs were also Peace Corps Volunteers together in Ethiopia from 2014 to 2016.
The couple began work in Rwanda in January 2019.
?Donovan Gregg was an extraordinary volunteer who, with his wife Jessica, devoted his life to service, education and learning about new cultures,? said Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen. ?We are heartbroken by this tragic news, and we send our condolences to Jessica, his mother Debbie, and their families. Donovan will always be remembered by the Peace Corps and the many people whose lives he touched around the world.?
Donovan, a TEFL-certified English teacher, graduated from Western Oregon University in Monmouth and earned a master?s degree from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy in Erfurt, Germany. He also completed an internship with the Department of Commerce at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.
During his time in Ethiopia, Donovan provided classroom instruction for five public school English classes, led training sessions for Peace Corps trainees and managed budgeting and logistics for youth summer camps, among other projects.
Earlier in his career, Donovan was an English teacher in Busan, South Korea, where he worked with 700 students from 2012 to 2014. He also worked for the German Engagement Prize Foundation in Erfurt and taught Afghan students and teachers with the American Councils for International Education in Mumbai, India.
Donovan was fluent in German and spoke Oromifa and Amharic.
?Donovan was a person with an easy smile who personified the Peace Corps spirit of development through cultural exchange,? said Peace Corps Rwanda Country Director Keith Hackett.
In addition to his wife Jessica Marie Macaulay Gregg, Donovan is survived by his mother Deborah Jean (Porter) Gregg, father Donnelly David Gregg, grandmother Esther Gregg, parents-in-law Shirley Anne Hauge and Gregory Dale Harris, half-siblings Cameron, Erica, Benjamin and Jonathan Gregg, step-sister-in-law Chloe Harris and her husband Terry Parker, aunt Rebecca Tevis and her husband Ken and cousin Casey Tevis.
WASHINGTON ? Peace Corps Response Volunteer Alan Hale, 80, of Bellingham, Wash., died in a bicycling accident in his site in the Philippines on July 11.
Hale arrived in Southern Leyte province in October 2018 and worked with local officials to improve solid waste management. He delivered training to more than 2,000 people with a focus on eliminating trash burning and littering.
?The entire Peace Corps family mourns the loss of Alan Hale, who gave so generously of his time and talents in the Philippines and made a real impact on everyone he encountered,? said Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen. ?Alan and his loved ones, including his host family, are in our prayers as we honor his memory and celebrate his lifetime of service.?
Hale was on his second tour as a Peace Corps Response volunteer in the Philippines, having served there from September 2017 to April 2018, and he worked for the Peace Corps as a training officer with Anita Hale in Puerto Rico for three years in the 1960s.
A longtime resident of Bellefontaine, Ohio, Hale was a life member of Kiwanis International and a member of Toastmasters International. He volunteered on many boards, including the Logan County Art League. He was also an avid swimmer who had a great appreciation for nature.
After graduating from Euclid High School in Euclid, Ohio, Hale studied biology as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College. He went on to earn a master?s degree in education at Mankato State University in Minnesota and a law degree at Ohio Northern University.
Hale had successful careers as an attorney, teacher, outdoor experiential leader, and municipal solid waste manager. His understanding of recycling and waste management, along with his desire to improve the environment, led him to become a Peace Corps Response volunteer.
?I joined the Peace Corps to fulfill a 50-year dream of serving as a Peace Corps volunteer,? Hale wrote from his site. ?My service in the Philippines means I have not been a porch-sitting retiree, but an active citizen involved in meaningful work.?
Alan Hale is survived by his brother Robert Hale and wife Catherine of Henderson, Nev.; sister Lynda Wilkerson of Bellefontaine, Ohio; daughter Thessaly Prentiss and husband Philip of Bellingham, Wash.; daughter Kari Hale and husband Justin Davis of Edmonds, Wash.; son Victor Beck-Hale of Columbus, Ohio; Anita Hale of Port Townsend, Wash. (mother of Thessaly and Kari); Ann Beck of Bellefontaine, Ohio (mother of Victor); and grandchildren Michael Davis, Clara Prentiss, Madeline Prentiss, and Garett Prentiss.
DAVIS, CA ? Brian Sway, a Davis resident and Peace Corps Response Volunteer, has used a lifetime of professional experience to improve 350 medical clinics and the National Department of Health in South Africa.
Drawing on his background in business process reengineering, Sway overhauled a Pretoria clinic?s records management systems, streamlining file and patient flows. He helped write a scope of work and trained personnel on the new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). The results were so dramatic that the SOP was shared with approximately 350 clinics across South Africa, as well as the National Department of Health.
?I?m making use of all the skills I?ve developed over my personal and professional life,? said Sway. ?Moreover, I like to think I?m making a contribution, in some small way, getting to meet and work with wonderful people, and I can?t wait to go to my Peace Corps Response job every day. It?s a great feeling. Life away from home isn?t all easy, but it certainly is fulfilling.?
The U.S. Department of State recognized Sway?s contributions with a Franklin Award, which recognizes individuals, foundations, associations and corporations that actively contribute to advancing America's ideals around the globe through public diplomacy.
Before Sway revamped the clinics? filing system, staff had to search for over three hours to find a single patient file. This delay, in turn, created long patient wait times at many of the health clinics engaged in the fight to defeat HIV. Clinical staff were forced to manage irritated patient crowds rather than dispense treatment. In locations that have received support, files for individual patients can now be retrieved in less than five minutes. Patient wait times have been significantly reduced, leading to better patient flow and more satisfied clients.
Sway has lived in Davis since 1970. He graduated from the University of California, Davis in 1974 with an undergraduate degree in Economics. He worked at a number of companies in the Sacramento area and currently serves as a Solutions Architect for CGI. His late wife, Susanne Rockwell, earned two degrees from UC Davis: a bachelors in international relations (1974) and a masters in rhetoric and communication. She worked in UC Davis communications for 30 years. Sway has two children; his daughter, Julia Rockwell Sway, graduated from UC Davis in 2007.
AUSTIN, TX ? Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen and National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) President Glenn Blumhorst signed a Memorandum of Understanding June 21 to renew the organizations? commitments to support the Peace Corps? mission. The two groups will continue to implement initiatives that promote a better understanding among Americans of other people and cultures around the world and educate the public on Peace Corps programs and service opportunities.
The memorandum was signed during the Peace Corps Connect conference?an annual gathering of returned Peace Corps volunteers hosted by NPCA. The 2019 conference took place in Austin, Texas, with the help of the Heart of Texas Peace Corps Association, and centered on the theme ?Innovation for Good.?
The conference featured several workshops focused on global advocacy. Echoing this idea throughout the weekend were keynote speakers, panels, awardees and special guests.
?The signing of this memorandum gives returned Peace Corps volunteers a framework for a lifetime of service,? said Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen. ?I ask every person at this conference to be strong as you talk about your volunteer experiences. You are key to the next generation of Peace Corps volunteers.?
At Peace Corps Connect, NPCA acknowledged several returned Peace Corps volunteers for their outstanding service. Sue Richiedei accepted the Deborah Harding Women of Achievement award for outstanding impact on global women?s? lives. Guatemalan-American filmmaker and former Peace Corps counterpart Luis Argueta received the 2019 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award. CorpsAfrica founder Liz Fanning was awarded the 2019 Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service.
The 2019 Loret Miller Ruppe Award for Outstanding Community Service was given to the New York City Peace Corps Association (NYCPCA) and Peace Corps Iran Association (PCIA).
?We are a Peace Corps of impact,? said NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst.
NPCA is a registered nonprofit organization that serves as a network for those who served in the Peace Corps. The organization is committed to fostering Peace Corps values and remains an important resource to both currently serving and returned volunteers.
WASHINGTON ? Returned Peace Corps volunteers working in agriculture and food security spoke at Peace Corps Headquarters June 11 for the first installment of the agency?s Thought Leader Series, which brings together influential professionals from various fields to explore how volunteer service shaped their lives and careers.
?The experience of living overseas, not just visiting but living, changes your world view,? said Tim Hamilton, who served in Peace Corps Ghana and now works as executive director of the Food Export Association of the Midwest and Northwest. ?A global perspective is needed in this country, and Peace Corps provides that.?
Volunteers are also problem solvers, he said.
Though he had no experience as a mechanic, Hamilton was called on to fix a broken-down excavator during construction of a fish pond in Ghana. ?You go into service with one thing in mind and you have to be flexible,? he said. ?Volunteers have to learn to adapt and figure things out, which provides a good foundation regardless of your career.?
Beth Dunford, assistant to the administrator for Food Security at USAID, lived in a small village in Morocco during her three years in the Peace Corps. She said life in her host community, where she learned the local language and foodways, gave her intercultural skills that have shaped her work in the development sector.
?It?s not OK for people to be hungry when agriculture is present and available,? said Dunford, who helps lead the Feed the Future program at USAID. ?I realized I wanted to be part of a broader solution, to give people a better chance.?
The panel also included returned Paraguay volunteer Ken Roberts, head of Corporate Government Affairs at Mondelez International.
Roberts grew up in Missouri and saw the Peace Corps as an opportunity for personal and professional growth. As a volunteer, he was an advisor to Paraguay?s ministry of agriculture.
?It doesn?t matter if you come from an agricultural background or not,? said Roberts, who worked for many years for the USDA?s Foreign Agricultural Service. ?If you want to get something done, if you?re self-motivated, you can do that.?
Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen said she hopes the Thought Leaders Series demonstrates the return on investment of Peace Corps service and the personal and professional development that occurs among Peace Corps volunteers.
The June 11 forum was moderated by Bill Guyton and Kate Raftery. Guyton, who was a volunteer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is an agricultural economist and executive director of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association. Raftery, who served in Paraguay, leads the Peace Corps Service Innovation program.
WASHINGTON ? Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen met with representatives from the D.C. Public Schools Language Pathway Program (LEPP) at the West Education Campus last week to discuss the positive impact of returned Peace Corps volunteers in their local communities.
The meeting included Emily Clayton, a D.C. Public Schools teacher who returned from her Peace Corps service in Nicaragua in 2014.
As a fluent Spanish speaker with two years of experience living in Central America, Clayton finds she is able to easily connect through language and cultural understanding with her students, many of whom are first- or second-generation Americans.
?I?ve taken the experiences I had as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua and brought them back to my work in the D.C. Public Schools system,? Clayton said. ?As a teacher, there has been a direct correlation between the work I did during my service and the work I do now. Teaching without many resources and having flexibility and resiliency has prepared me and kept me grateful for what we have access to here in the United States.?
D.C. Public Schools has collaborated with the Peace Corps for the LEPP program since 2016 with the purpose of connecting returned Volunteers to World Language and English Learner classrooms.
Educators selected for this program are given the opportunity to continue developing their professional skills and careers in education in the D.C. Public Schools system, which places a high value on global competence. This year, the LEPP program has seen its highest number of returned Peace Corps volunteers yet, with five individuals currently in the program pipeline.
?It excites me to see that the experiences Peace Corps volunteers are having in the field can be so relevant and easily translated to the career paths they take when they return home,? said Director Olsen.
Also in attendance last week were Danielle Brooks, LEPP Teacher & Recruitment Pipeline Manager; Erika Pereira, LEPP Elementary English as a Second Language (ESL) Manager; and Katie Hamann, Program Specialist in the Peace Corps Office of Third Goal and Returned Volunteer Services.
Many returned Peace Corps volunteers bring the skills they learned during service back to their communities in the United States. To learn more about how returned volunteers can be involved in the LEPP program in D.C., visit their website or connect with the Peace Corps Office of Third Goal.
WASHINGTON ? Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen and Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Pa?in signed a historic agreement May 6 establishing a new Peace Corps program in Montenegro, the agency?s 142nd country of service.
?Today?s signing is a testament to the close partnership between the United States and Montenegro,? said Director Olsen, who met with the deputy prime minister in the capital Podgorica. ?And it is a testament to our commitment to a common vision of a brighter future for Montenegro and its neighbors in the Western Balkans.?
Deputy Prime Minister Pa?in said the Peace Corps program in Montenegro is another confirmation of the partnership, support and friendship of the U.S. Government and American people to Montenegro and its citizens.
?We see the service of the U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Montenegro as another opportunity for Montenegrin and U.S. citizens to enrich their lives and to create friendships based on mutual understanding and shared values,? he said.
The Government of Montenegro invited the Peace Corps to establish a program in the country in August 2018. The program will be managed by the existing Peace Corps post in neighboring Albania.
The first group of volunteers is scheduled to depart in January 2020. The new volunteers will undergo three months of technical, cross-cultural and language training before starting two years of service in small, under-served Montenegrin communities, working alongside Montenegrin English teachers in primary schools.
Prospective applicants can view open positions for Montenegro on the Peace Corps website.
Also this week, Director Olsen traveled to Tirana, Albania, to meet with Prime Minister Edi Rama and President Ilir Meta and sign a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Education. Over the last 22 years, nearly 900 Peace Corps volunteers have taught in Albanian schools and worked with youth throughout the country.
Director Olsen?s visit to Tirana included a cookout with Peace Corps staff and volunteers and a close of service ceremony for 14 departing volunteers.
WASHINGTON ? For the eighth year in a row, Howard University holds the No. 1 spot on the list of top Peace Corps volunteer-producing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). During 2018, Howard sent an impressive 20 alumni to serve in the Peace Corps?more graduates than it has sent since 2014.
Howard graduate Jeremy Butler currently serves as an agriculture volunteer in Tanzania.
?My time at Howard University took me on an unforgettable journey where I experienced many successes and a few pitfalls, but everything was worth it in the end,? said Butler, who grew up in Beltsville, Maryland. ?I believe that my service in the Peace Corps will mirror that of my Howard University experience. In the Peace Corps I have had many successes and a few obstacles to overcome, but I?m more than confident that, just like with Howard University, my Peace Corps journey will be worth it.?
The No. 2 spot on the top volunteer-producing HBCU list goes to Spelman College in Atlanta. Spelman sent 7 alumnae to serve as Peace Corps volunteers around the world in 2018.
?The Peace Corps is committed to recruiting and supporting individuals who reflect the rich diversity of the United States while they serve abroad as Peace Corps volunteers,? says Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen. ?Historically Black Colleges and Universities are critical in fostering a spirit of community among their student body, and we are proud to recognize the HBCUs that strive to encourage public service.?
Morehouse College, also in Atlanta, claims third place on the top volunteer-producing HBCU list. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University ties with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University for the No. 4 spot.
?I learned about the Peace Corps when I was in college,? said Florida A&M graduate and Peace Corps Philippines volunteer Kayla Valley. ?A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) came to talk to the students at my school about Peace Corps and about her experience. It was then that I learned that one of my professors was also an RPCV. Once I learned about Peace Corps and became determined that I would apply, I was meeting RPCVs left and right,? added the Atlanta native. ?Asking them to share their stories and experiences with Peace Corps only inspired me more and assured me that it would be an amazing and beneficial experience.?
Around 32% percent of Peace Corps volunteers self-report as racially or ethnically diverse, following the agency?s efforts to expand outreach to diverse communities across the United States. These efforts include increased engagement on HBCU campuses.
The Peace Corps seeks to bring unique cross-cultural perspectives to communities around the world. Recruiting and supporting a volunteer corps that represents the diversity of America remains a top priority.
1) Howard University - 20
2) Spelman College - 7
3) Morehouse College - 5
4) Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (tied) - 4
4) North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (tied) - 4