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My Peace Corps Story
48 minutes | a year ago
The Peace Corps Coronavirus Evacuation
On March 15, the Peace Corps announced it would temporarily suspend Volunteer operations and begin evacuating Volunteers from all posts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On this episode, five volunteers share their story of evacuation in the time of coronavirus. Resources: Facebook Page for COVID Evacuation: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PeaceCorpsCOVIDevacuationsupport/ Peace Corps Headquarters COVID Page: https://www.peacecorps.gov/coronavirus/ National Peace Corps Association: https://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articles/new-action-to-congress-protect-peace-corps-and-support-evacuees Enjoy this episode? Then be sure to leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcast and help others discover this show.
20 minutes | a year ago
Happy National Peace Corps Week – Return of the Podcast
Happy National Peace Corps Week! This episode marks the return of the My Peace Corps Story podcast. After taking a few months off, I’m starting the show up again. The show will now be a monthly podcast for the time being. If I feel that I have the time, I’ll happily increase the frequency to two or more episodes a month but I’d hate to overcommit and fall short. This week, in honor of National Peace Corps Week, I would like to share three speeches from President John F. Kennedy. As you likely already know, JFK founded the Peace Corps in 1961. In this episode you’ll hear JFK’s address to Congress on Executive Order 10924, which established the Peace Corps. Following that clip, I found an awesome promo video about the Peace Corps with a fireside chat speech from Kennedy. Rounding out the episode, I have a 1962 speech that JFK delivered to a group of 600 Peace Corps volunteers on the south lawn of White House. I hope you enjoy them. Again, happy Peace Corps Week! Enjoy this episode? Then be sure to leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcast and help others discover this show.
24 minutes | a year ago
COSing – Tyler Lloyd, Peace Corps Podcast Host
After 27 months of the My Peace Corps Story podcast, I’m closing this chapter of the podcast. The podcast isn’t over though. I plan to come back to the show with a new format. Producing weekly podcasts was an ambitious undertaking but immensely rewarding. I thank each and everyone of you, whether you were a guest or listener or both. Thank you for all those 5-star reviews on Apple Podcasts. Thank you for the shares, likes, and reposts. Thank you for the comments and most importantly thank you for the criticism. It has been my pleasure to help share so many amazing stories over the past two years. In the coming months, as I take some time off, please continue to share the show. I would especially appreciate it if you help recruit new people to interview. If you know someone who has an great story, please sent them here: Share Your Story. Remember, every volunteer has a story. What’s yours?
31 minutes | a year ago
Teaching in the Bush – Katie McNamara, Namibia 2016-18
Inspired by a former teacher, Katie set off to Peace Corps for an adventure and a chance to prove herself. She did both and more. This week, I talk with Katie McNamara about her time in Namibia, a country that’s twice the size of California while also being the second least densely populated place on earth. Photos from Katie’s Service Katie McNamara’s Peace Corps Story Where and when did you serve? What did you do? I served in Namibia from 2016 to 2018 as a math and science teacher in a rural village in one of the northern regions of Owamboland. What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories? During my training I was given the local name ‘Nelago’ which means lucky, which happened to be the same name as the principal of my school that I was assigned to. When I first arrived at school my Principal was on leave and I introduced myself at assembly in front of 700 students in the local language and told them my given Wambo name and basically the whole village laughed at me. First because… they couldn’t believe I could speak their language (or I just sounded funny) and second.. they were going to start calling me ‘Principal Nelago’. It was the most embarrassing and awesome moment that really made me dive right into my new community head first. What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories? I had a dog named Lucy who followed me everywhere and I loved her companionship… but so did many other male dogs, so she got pregnant. She had five adorable puppies on my birthday and it was very hard to watch her neglect them and have one of them not survive and I had to bury it. Definitely not a challenge I was expecting to have in the Peace Corps. What do you miss about Peace Corps? I miss hanging out with my colleagues in the staff lounge dancing to ‘Omunye’ before school! What is something you learned in the Peace Corps? Never have expectations and get used to ‘Africa time’… it’s real. I learned PATIENCE. Do you have a favorite quote or local saying that you’d like to share? Tangi unene/ tangi unenenenenenene/ iyaloooo shiliiiii – those are all basically how you say thank you very very very much! Learn more about Katie’s service: https://katiepcnamibia.wordpress.com/ Enjoy this episode? Then be sure to leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcast and help others discover this show.
46 minutes | a year ago
101 Arabian Tales – Randy Hobler, Libya 1968-1969
Photos from Randy’s Service Randy Hobler’s Peace Corps Story Where and when did you serve? What did you do? Served in Libya from October 1968 thru most of October 1969. I, like all my colleagues, was a TEFL (Teaching English as a Second Language) teacher. Almost all of us were teaching 5th Grade. What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories? In country memories are those that repeat…all the wonderful meals served by villagers to me so many times. What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories? When a barber in Tripoli was shaving my neck with a straight razor and cut both sides of my neck till it started bleeding. What do you miss about Peace Corps? The camaraderie during training. The interaction with villagers, very stimulating and fun. What is something you learned in the Peace Corps? Many things, but three big lessons were 1) To understand your own country, you have to leave it; 2) it’s only leaders who cause conflict and war, no one person on earth has any quarrel with any other and 3) the incredible brainwashing the American media has foisted upon the U.S. in terms of Israel. Enjoy this episode? Then be sure to leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcast and help others discover this show.
56 minutes | a year ago
From Small Town to Smaller Town – Sharelle Ahrens, Mongolia 2018-2020
Photos from Sharelle’s Service Sharelle’s Peace Corps Story Where and when did you serve? What did you do? Ghana, 2010-2012. Primary Assignment was Biology Teacher – also ended up being head of the ICT department at my school and training new PCVs on PEPFAR grant project implementation. What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories? So many come to mind but one that still makes me so happy to this day is the story about a young man at my school who lost his leg and now walks again with a prosthetic thanks to some resourcefulness and determination. Even better, this young man is now in school to learn to make prosthetic limbs for others in need. What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories? All the crazy food items I was served in the rural villages – once dining with a local chief, I was served a steaming hot bowl of goat testicles. Yuck! What do you miss about Peace Corps? 100% the people, the culture, the sense of community. What is something you learned in the Peace Corps? Something I learned and still continuing to learn is how to exercise patience and how to always be resourceful! Learn more about Sharelle’s service: bigskytobluesky.blogspot.com Enjoy this episode? Then be sure to leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcast and help others discover this show.
42 minutes | a year ago
Health Resource Partners – Britany Ferrell, Ghana 2010-12
Health Resource Partners (HRP) founder, Britany Ferrell, decided to join the United States Peace Corps during her last year of college at the University of Alabama. Shortly after her graduation in June 2010, she learned that she was going to be posted in Ghana, West Africa. Three months later, Britany arrived in the village of Eremon to be a secondary science teacher for the next two years. Photos from Britany’s Service Britany Ferrell’s Peace Corps Story Where and when did you serve? What did you do? Ghana, 2010-2012. Primary Assignment was Biology Teacher – also ended up being head of the ICT department at my school and training new PCVs on PEPFAR grant project implementation. What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories? So many come to mind but one that still makes me so happy to this day is the story about a young man at my school who lost his leg and now walks again with a prosthetic thanks to some resourcefulness and determination. Even better, this young man is now in school to learn to make prosthetic limbs for others in need. What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories? All the crazy food items I was served in the rural villages – once dining with a local chief, I was served a steaming hot bowl of goat testicles. Yuck! What do you miss about Peace Corps? 100% the people, the culture, the sense of community. What is something you learned in the Peace Corps? Something I learned and still continuing to learn is how to exercise patience and how to always be resourceful! Enjoy this episode? Then be sure to leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcast and help others discover this show.
53 minutes | a year ago
Serving in the First Year – Addis and Jim Chapman, West Pakistan 1961-63
Photos from Addis and Jim’s Service Addis and Jim Chapman’s Peace Corps Story Where and when did you serve? What did you do? We served in what was then West Pakistan from 1961-63. Ours was the first multidisciplinary project in PC — nurses, teachers, lab techs, librarian, agriculture specialists, even a brick mason. Jobs for the most part were poorly thought out, so most of us had to create our own. Addis was an RN, started working in a govt. hospital in Lyallpur, but had nothing to do. She then created a program to evaluate jobs requesting future PCVs to insure the jobs actually existed. Next she worked with Jim at a rural clinic in Bucheki treating up to 90 patients a day, ad finally ran a hospital operating room in Sialkot. Jim was assigned to a veterinary college in Lahore with no defined responsibilities (totally unqualified, anyway), then helped to restore a crumbling 17th century Moghul bridge, taught medical microbiology to lab students in a mission hospital in Lahore, then on to the rural clinic with Addis, finally trained graduate doctors in new, improved syphilis serology techniques at med school in Larhore. What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories? Probably when village headman invited us to photograph him and his wife (she was in purdah, so not to be seen unveiled by other adult males). They came to our little courtyard outside the clinic, she removed her veil, and Jim took their picture. (See photo — at this point she probably wouldn’t mind!) This was the point at which we finally knew we had been accepted in the village and could be trusted. What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories? Aside from the illnesses which were legion (Addis had amoebic hepatitis; Jim had malaria, severe foot infection; both had many bouts of dysentery, both amoebic and bacterial). Probably the least favorite experience, or at least most discouraging, was leaving our village after a corrupt doctor was assigned and we felt we could not have either ourselves or the Peace Corps associated with this jerk and undo all the good will we had developed. What do you miss about Peace Corps? First and foremost, the other PCVs, with whom we forged lifelong bonds (we have had regular reunions every few years since our return). The villagers, especially the children, and how they accepted us and learned to trust us (and, we hope, learned from us.). What is something you learned in the Peace Corps? An appreciation for other cultures, other religions. Living for two years in a Muslim country taught us that people are much the same the world over even though they might look different, dress different, speak different, and possibly even think differently. Plus, or course, a love for travel. Do you have a favorite quote or local saying that you’d like to share? Probably nothing better than “Salaam Alaikum,” the universal greeting among Muslims. Loosely translated it means, “Peace be upon you.” This greeting has opened doors and made friends for us during our travels (e.g. Turkey, Morocco) and even her in the U.S. It also is a recognition of the common God among those of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths. Enjoy this episode? Then be sure to leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcast and help others discover this show.
48 minutes | a year ago
Tough Cookie – Tasha Prados, Peru 2011-2013
Since leaving Peru, Tasha Prados founded Duraca Strategic, a business and marketing strategy company. Tasha wants organizations that are doing good for the world to have access to expertise from a skilled partner that can help those organizations. She recently left her full time job and will be traveling the world as a digital nomad while running Duraca Strategic. We go back to the beginning, her service in the Peace Corps. Photos from Tasha’s Service Tasha Prados’s Peace Corps Story Where and when did you serve? What did you do? I was a Water and Sanitation Volunteer in rural Peru from 2011-2013. I worked with the local community to increase access to potable water, build a small town’s first sewage system, build improved cookstoves for women cooking on open fires, reduce trash burning, improve recycling, plant trees, and start composting. I did health and hygiene education, worked with local nursing students on HIV prevention, and taught English, vocational orientation, and exercise classes. You can see more of what my service was like in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8rS2KLgx-s What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories? I have so many great memories from the Peace Corps. One of my favorites is going to my host dad’s gold mine with him and my host mom. We hiked up to the mine all together. I was the first woman inside the mountain. We left sacrifices of fruit for pachamama (mother earth) and to thank the mountain for her bounty. What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories? I did an improved cookstove project for women cooking on open fires. The cookstoves improve indoor air quality so the family isn’t inhaling smoke, and they improve fuel efficiency, so the women can use less wood — better for the environment and their wallets. The first cookstove we built was in a local comedor popular (popular eatery) — a bunch of women work together to pool resources; they take turns cooking for the whole group. The women committed a lot of time and resources to building the stoves — they came to five workshops on health and sanitation, and got materials for the stove: adobes, mud, ash, and woodchips. The day we build the stoves was one of the best days of my service — all of us working together — women, husbands, kids — towards a common goal. The next day I came to the comedor popular to light the stoves and…they didn’t light. That was one of the worst days of my Peace Corps service. All the women had trusted me. I had convinced them to invest time and resources in this endeavor, and now — it had failed. Every day I came back and we tried to light the stoves. Finally, after four days, they lit! And they are still using them to this day. What do you miss about Peace Corps? In Peace Corps, every day was an adventure. I’d wake up thinking I knew what I’d be working on that day — a needs assessment or a sewage system — and then the day would turn out completely different, whether it was being invited to be the madrina (godmother) of a footbridge, or going with some friends to the chacra (field). What is something you learned in the Peace Corps? Peruvians are so kind and welcoming. You enter someone’s home, and they invite you to sit down and offer you something to drink or eat. They make it a point to say hello and goodbye. When they invite you to a meal, they pay. I try to bring that same warm welcome and help people feel comfortable and at home. Do you have a favorite quote or local saying that you’d like to share? “Asi es” — that’s the way it is. Enjoy this episode? Then be sure to leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcast and help others discover this show.
61 minutes | a year ago
Climbing Cotopaxi with the Warmis – Dana Platin, Ecuador 1997-2000
In 2001 the first expedition of indigenous women reached the summit of Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world just shy of 20,000 feet. Four Andean women (Warmis) and two American women all joined together to climb in celebration of women worldwide. Dana Platin was one of the women on that expedition. Photos from Dana’s Service Dana Platin’s Peace Corps Story Where and when did you serve? What did you do? I served almost 3 years as a Peace Corps volunteer, in a rural community located in the northern Andes of Ecuador, about 2 hours south of the Colombian border. Living above 9,000 feet elevation, I adapted and acclimated to the thin air and highland living. The first language in this community is Kichwa and 2nd language is Spanish. As a generalist I collaborated and worked with indigenous girls and women in leadership development, community health, education, and small business development. Living and working alongside the Warmis (women in Kichwa) I gained their love and respect as together we experienced moments of powerlessness and empowerment and learned how girls and women can address, overcome, motivate and achieve what we want when we put our minds to it. What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories? My top 3 greatest memories of my Peace Corps service: Mushuc Mullo (pronounced Moo-Shoo Moo-Yo) the New Seed in Kichwa. It was one of my hardest tasks to pitch the idea and help convince the parents to allow this to happen. The New Seed, by planting seeds now we may pave the way for this next generation of girls. I will never forget that moment when I realized that I had an audience right under my nose and that I was ignoring and not taking seriously, the girls. I always had this vision of my Peace Corps service working with the adults and helping them come together as a community to improve their quality of life and community development. I didn’t envision myself working with young girls, it just never came to me nor did Peace Corps request I do this, “yet” I had these little girls following me around since day 1, by my side, “wanting” to work with me but never actually being direct and telling me. In the culture I grew up in, things are much more obvious; people will let you know, it’s “in your face” and here I was just oblivious to the obvious. So, there it was, my moment of clarity, I had an audience, I had these shy, little Warmis, and potential leaders all lined up in front of me with their dusty old notebooks, broken pencils and their best attire ready willing and fired up to learn. I had the future in front of me and I was negligent. I had ignored them; I didn’t take them seriously until now, until I let them lead me… International Women’s Day- March 8, 1999: when we turned tragedy into community action. The girls and women guiding me, leading us to solutions for some of our communities’ greatest challenges. “Anita, my little sister leading, reading and translating women’s rights from Spanish to Kichwa alongside her mother Rosa Elena to the community. Not only did we stir the pot on raising awareness about women’s rights in a community that stayed silent for so long, we stirred the pot of quinoa soup that brought people together, brought strength and belief that change can happen when you take action and work at it. Our quinoa soup soothed the soul. Women, girls, men and boys gather to observe International Women’s Day to learn and discuss views around women’s rights. March 8, 1999.” Being a part of the first expedition of indigenous women to climb to the summit of Cotopaxi, the world’s highest most active volcano at 19,347 feet, located in Ecuador, South America. “We discovered how the power of belief, teamwork and solidarity, propelled a small group of women (WARMIS) up our mountain path, breaking trail, breaking barriers celebrating women worldwide. After touching snow for the first time in their lives and after reaching the top of the massive Cotopaxi, the Warmis returned to their communities to educate others on their experience and how the ascent had empowered and impacted their lives. They felt capable of accomplishing many things that they had never dreamed of. Six months after the ascent, both women strengthened their small businesses and increased their monthly sales. Women’s participation in the development of community and approach to problem solving was also strengthened, in which one of the women became the first female president of her community and she led that community like no president before! They attributed their new-found strength and leadership skills from their mountaineering experience. The fact that they were able to navigate through the darkness of the night on this beast of an Andean glacier, and found the physical and mental strength to climb at almost 20,000 feet gave them the strength to tackle many of their other challenges back in their communities. Their golden beaded necklaces glowed from 19,347 feet and later would become the symbol of The Warmi Project representing strength, wisdom, and the ability to expand our comfort zones. As I look back, that ascent impacted my life and showed me the power of women, self-belief, and teamwork. I learned about mental strength from some of the ‘toughest’ women on the planet and continue to apply those teachings to everyday life.” What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories? The unfortunate abuse, domestic violence and discrimination that was considered normal. “The women in my community have been raised to believe that they have no worth, that when bad things happen it is their fault, and that they do not have any rights. Ninety-eight percent of the women in my community suffered from domestic violence. The majority of the women were pulled from schools by the third grade to work the fields or were sent to work as maids in the big city with wealthier families. The Constitution has a code of women’s rights, it exists, but the women’s rights code hasn’t yet landed in our tiny little rural community.” What kept me going? Or what was my WHY? “I knew I had started this journey for many reasons; I wanted to volunteer, learn, grow, contribute, travel but I didn’t have one set thing to keep me going. I discovered that the issues that fired me up the most drove me to ‘act’ to implement and not stay tongue-tied and silent passively accepting the bullshit/ All the abuse, machismo, discrimination that I witnessed (especially with the girls and women) became that driving force for me; my ‘why’ and purpose to continue to serve. It was not going easy, but I knew I had others that wanted to see things change and that together we were stronger and could make impact. Now 20 years later, when I find myself in a challenging situation, I remember my why and push on.” What is something you learned in the Peace Corps? Listen, learn, and let others lead you. Slowdown in order to speed up later on. Silence is ok and sometimes by speaking less you say more and give others a space to share. Work with those that show up, even if you were expecting a large group and only 1-2 show, go for it, they are the informal and future leaders, motivated people who have the ability to move mobilize others. Do you have a favorite quote or local saying that you’d like to share? If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. African Proverb Juntas vamos mas lejos… Enjoy this episode? Then be sure to leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcast and help others discover this show.
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