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SUMMER CHALLENGE 2017 > 25.1 - Justme's Task: Peace Corps

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message 1: by SRC Moderator (last edited Jun 06, 2017 02:59PM) (new)

SRC Moderator | 4348 comments Mod
25.1 Justme's Task: Peace Corps

The first group of 51 Peace Corps Volunteers, Ghana I, arrived in Accra to serve as teachers. (August 30, 1961)

I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV). I served in Guatemala in the 1st Integrated Pest Management program, which evolved into Permaculture. I taught youth at a regional HS and co-taught a large, national group of illiterate women.
I intend to post more in my help thread if you are interested & discussion is welcome!

Peace Corps has 3 goals, so I will build my task ideas on them.
Please choose 2 of the 3 options below. Your 2 books must have a combined page total greater than 400 pages (that is, at least 401 pages).

1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.

There are presently 61 countries listed with current volunteers in service.
Peace Corps Countries
When selecting a country for the tasks, do not use the scrolled list at the top as some of them do not have current volunteers - scroll down the page.

Imagine you are going to serve in the Peace Corps. The areas of service are: Education, Agriculture, Community Economic Development, Health, Environment & Youth in Development. Based on the types of service in the country listings, choose a country and tell us which one & how you would serve. Under each country name is a set of symbols, indicating the types of service for that country. If you hover over the symbol, it will tell you which service area it indicates.
Often, if you are not part of a specialized field, you can related many of your skills to the broader service areas.

Read a nonfiction book to assist you in your 'chosen service area' (above) and explain how it is useful or why you chose it.

2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.

Read one of the 600+ books that I have rated 5* on GR (following SRC normal rules). Justme's Read Bookshelf. I don't know if it will help you understand me, lol, but I sure hope you find a good book to read!

3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Read a book about their service experiences written by a Volunteer of a specific service group and note which group. Even better, if you can obtain a book written by a Peace Corps Volunteer (or Returned), though not required.
REQUIRED: If the relevance of the book is not clear from the Goodreads description, please explain your answer.

here is a list to get you started in your search:
Volunteers - Memoirs


message 2: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments reserved


message 3: by Justme (last edited Jun 05, 2017 01:18PM) (new)

Justme | 258 comments 1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.

Usually, the service areas are rather broad, but at the time of my service, they were specifically looking for science graduates to serve in the 1st Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.

Each volunteer is assigned a Host Country Counterpart, who usually works with a local non-government organization (NGO). The organization I worked for was started by an American for the purpose of teaching Permaculture, named Altertec.

At the beginning of my service, they wanted us to do research & collect data on various practices out in farmer's fields. As that was not a particular interest of mine, I requested to work in a local Agriculture-focused HS, that housed students from all over the region (similar to a US state). I had already been paired with the counterpart that worked there, a male teenager. He was expected to teach a variety of classes...which he was not really prepared for. All he had to go on was what he'd learned in his HS classes. I distinctly remember spending a lot of time with him, at night, helping him to understand the principles of pH. From some of the feedback I got, it appeared that we were dating! To preserve his dignity, he taught the class & took the credit for the knowledge that I prepped him to teach each week during session.

He was promoted to a regional supervisor the following year, and his female cousin, who had just turned 15, became my second counterpart. After observing the program for a year, I had a lot of ideas for improvements. I designed the curriculum, negotiated with Marta, a Mayan Medicine Woman (& family member to my counterparts) for plants to start a medicinal garden at the school, so that teas could be made by the cook to prevent colds & other maladies. Working with my new counterpart was a true joy!

Rosi had already been groomed to be a leader, and had visited 2 other countries teaching Altertec's concepts. The family had been involved from it's inception, but when the husband/father died...Marta took over his responsibilities. Rosi & visited each of our student's farm twice over the school year to observe & provide support for the real dilemmas that our students faced (I had only been able to visit once, on my own, the previous year).

There was a point that I didn't not wish to continue at the school. The abuse from the male Director & teachers just got to be too much. But Marta begged me not to leave her daughter there alone. So, I saw myself again in a support role & let Rosi do the teaching.

In the meantime, I also worked cooperatively with other female PCVs to teach the course to a group of illiterate women from across the country (mostly our service areas). The challenge was to take technical information, like insect metamorphosis, and present it in a non-formal type of educational style. Each month, we would decide who would present which part of the class, and then for one weekend, we would live & breathe Permaculture with these ladies, sleeping on the floor in a group, etc. It was the most fabulous collaborative experience I have ever had!


message 4: by Justme (last edited Jun 03, 2017 11:27AM) (new)

Justme | 258 comments 2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.

Note that I've sorted my bookshelf so the 5* books show up in the first few pages!


message 5: by Justme (last edited Jun 03, 2017 11:27AM) (new)

Justme | 258 comments 3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.


message 6: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments reserved


message 7: by SRC Moderator (new)

SRC Moderator | 4348 comments Mod
This thread is now open.


message 8: by Bea (new)

Bea | 3824 comments Wow! This task is HARD! I use two relatively local libraries: one in SC and one in GA; so two different systems. My difficulty was finding a book in one or the other...not as easy as usual.

I finally found a book for option 1 (health) - The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age.

For option 3: Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village. I am not sure what area of service the author was working in, but hopefully it will be clearer once I read the book.


message 9: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 15620 comments Mod
Bea wrote: "For option 3: Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village. I am not sure what area of service the author was working in, but hopefully it will be clearer once I read the book.
..."


GR description says Peace Corps. I'm looking at this one, too, because it's available at my library!


message 10: by Justme (last edited Jun 04, 2017 06:14AM) (new)

Justme | 258 comments Morning! So, Bea...what made it more challenging than normal?
This is only my second task.

That PC book does sound good; I'll have to see if I can find it! I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone reads!


message 11: by Bea (new)

Bea | 3824 comments Justme wrote: "Morning! So, Bea...what made it more challenging than normal?
This is only my second task."


For me, it is the topic and non-fiction part. I did see some dog searchers on the list but did not feel that met the sense of the task. And the books on your list that were in common with my own reading, I have already read (and I don't do re-reads). Just tough for me overall.


message 12: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 7516 comments if anyone wants a recommendation, I really enjoyed Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali


message 13: by KSMary (new)

KSMary | 780 comments Dee wrote: "if anyone wants a recommendation, I really enjoyed Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali"

I just looked at that one and put it on my TBR list this morning and my library has it!


message 14: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments Thanks for the feedback & recommendations!


message 15: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 341 comments I am also having trouble finding books that meet this challenge. I was wondering if Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande would satisfy the health aspect of the peace corps? The book is about end of life health care and similar things, I believe.


message 16: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments There is no real restriction (other than nonfiction) if you can explain your choice & link it to 'your country & area of service'...assuming that is health.

I am not requiring that you study the country's greatest needs in the area of health, though it would be nice if you tied it to a country with a large aging population. It's not something that we are evaluating for the challenge. You get to choose!

So, based on the task, this book is fine, again assuming you post it with the required info.


message 17: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments Apologies, I haven't pasted in the blurbs I cut from the task, but I will plan on doing that tomorrow.


message 18: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 341 comments Justme wrote: "There is no real restriction (other than nonfiction) if you can explain your choice & link it to 'your country & area of service'...assuming that is health.

I am not requiring that you study the ..."


Thank you


message 19: by Coralie (new)

Coralie | 2027 comments I am also having trouble with this task. I put subject: peace corps into my library catalog and the only possibility it came up with was The Two-Year Mountain: A Nepal Journey. Could you confirm that this would work for Option 3?


message 20: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments Although The Two-Year Mountain: A Nepal Journey is written by a RPCV, it is not about the volunteer experience or service. From the blurb it is written about unrelated travels, so more like a travelogue (Amazon lists it as travel literature under Travel Guides).

Try putting in "volunteer." I bet your librarian can help you find appropriate memoirs. Remember it doesn't have to be PC. Librarians are fantastic when you are looking for something you don't know how to find!

Though, this list is very repetitive with the one I put, it may have a few more options for PC (though I cannot say they are about service): https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/5...

Here are a couple more places to look for PC books: https://www.loc.gov/peacecorps/ Library of Congress
http://content.time.com/time/specials... Time Magazine "More than 1,000 Volunteers Have Written Books About the Experience" (note: I have no idea how to navigate their website)


message 21: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments I have added some info to post #3 on my experience of PC's 1st goal. I'll work on more later. Available to answer any questions you may have had about Peace Corps.


message 22: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 3611 comments Stephanie wrote: "I am also having trouble finding books that meet this challenge. I was wondering if Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande would satisfy the health aspec..."

I've read the book and it is fantastic! However, it is more about how to have an important discussion about end-of-life issues with your family and your healthcare provider than it is about providing healthcare. Mostly takes place in the USA.


message 23: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments Thanks for the feedback. Hopefully, she has a good explanation. :) There isn't anything in the task that precludes it's use.


message 24: by Coralie (new)

Coralie | 2027 comments Justme wrote: "Although The Two-Year Mountain: A Nepal Journey is written by a RPCV, it is not about the volunteer experience or service. From the blurb it is written about unrelated travels, so more like a trave..."

So does Option 3 have to be a book about their experiences as a volunteer? I am asking because that was not how I read the task.


message 26: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments So does Option 3 have to be a book about their experiences as a volunteer?

Hey, Coralie. Yes, that was the intent. I am unsure if any of those 3 books will work, simply because there is no reference on GR to the specific group they were volunteering with. That was part of the criteria. If you can find that info while you read or from some other source, then they should work (make sure you include your ref in your posting). The books may just be about their journey hopscotch volunteering...flitting from place to place (no judgement here...sounds great!) rather than sticking it out for a longer time to really get to know & live with the people. Option 3 is about the commitment to the organization & the people, and to sharing that experience; we call that "bringing it home."

Hope that helps! They look like intriguing books; I will add at least one of those to my tbr (which is definitely growing from these posts).


message 27: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments PS, if there is an organization reference, let us know & I can post up top to give others more ideas!


message 28: by Christine (new)

Christine | 705 comments If I understand correctly, for Option 1 we would need to read a nonfiction book relating to Education, Agriculture, Community Economic Development, Health, Environment, or Youth in Development. Does the book also need to be directly related to one of the listed countries, or could it be a general nonfiction book about one of those topics? Thanks!


message 29: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments It does not have to be related to the country chosen, except that it must be in a service area of that country. And you need to explain how it fits the service area.


message 30: by Coralie (new)

Coralie | 2027 comments I have given up on option 3, having spent more effort on it than any other task without having found a book that fits. I am now looking at option 1.

My chosen service area is education as I am a qualified teacher. I thought I would read a book about one of the listed countries but am having difficulty finding anything other that tourist guides. I am currently looking at China and am wondering if any of these books would work
Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, And Language
A Billion Voices: China's Search for a Common Language
Chinese Myths & Legends?

Otherwise I think I will go for a self-help book on self-confidence.


message 31: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments Your book must be relevant to education, not to a country. As long as you can explain how it fits the service area, it will be acceptable.


message 32: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 1314 comments So can I read any book about education? I am not sure if I would need to read one more directly involved with educating people in another country. I am an English teacher and I have many educations books on reading in my list, but none directed to anyone learning to read for the first time.

Thank you for your help! I am fascinated by your task and your experiences!


message 33: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments Sure! I keep meaning to add some more info. Been working too hard! LOL And haven't had any PC questions.

I don't see any problem with your education books...you just have to tell how it helps you teach (or whatever it is you are 'choosing' to do). If you can justify it to yourself, you can probably justify to the mods. It wasn't meant to be particularly strict...more of a fun 'what if?'

As far as learning to read for the first time...it's likely to have all ages wanting to improve their English, unless you go to an English speaking country. So, it wouldn't be only first-time readers.

btw, the task does not require a person to be a professional in their 'chosen service area'...this is 'make believe,' so feel free to chose whatever area you want.


message 34: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 7516 comments for option 3 - can I get your ruling on Dear Exile: The True Story of Two Friends Separated (for a Year) by an Ocean - its a book based on a series of letters where one of the authors is serving in the peace corps for a year?


message 35: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments That sounds like a very good fit for the task! Approved.


message 36: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 1314 comments Justme wrote: "Sure! I keep meaning to add some more info. Been working too hard! LOL And haven't had any PC questions.

I don't see any problem with your education books...you just have to tell how it helps you ..."

Thank you! I got that it was any area but given the choice education is one of my preferred nonfiction topics! I may just need help on how to describe why it fits. I can always read the way other people justify!

Thank so much!!! I don't have specific questions, just would love you to give an overview of your entire experience!


message 37: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments There is so much to learn from living in a different situation than that which you are accustomed to. It's like SRC in that you end up reading books you would have never picked up otherwise & finding some true treasures!
There are treasures in the depth & strength of your person. There are treasures in the people you meet. And there are always treasures in the natural places of the world.

I had been an exchange student to Australia in college. I'd never been far from where I'd grown up, in California, so it was quite the culture shock. I cried for 365 days. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but I found it to be a very difficult experience...between being lost in the computer & not having access to any money, to being homeless, to nearly failing classes (I was a 4.0, but the semesters were opposite, and I was stuck in second classes when I hadn't had the first class!), and having the big quake occur near home...well, I was a mess! I wanted to go home after the first semester, but my friends convinced me that I would regret it...that I'd already done the hard part of adjusting. They were right & I was glad I stayed. I even got engaged.

Well, when I went into PC, it was a much larger culture shock, let me tell you! My mother said every letter home had some aspect of bodily functions described...lol. Even though I found myself in a host family during training who were not hygienic enough to keep me from being ill, I felt I had to 'tough it out' & did not request a transfer. (Mistake) I was sick so much, it made full-immersive language much more difficult, so I found myself in the bottom class being counseled that maybe PC was not for me. Nothing could make me quit though. Every time I felt down, I just asked myself if I was going to be miserable (in which case, what was the point?) or make the best of it...and the feelings passed.

Once I got out to my site, I was cooking my own food & felt fine...and I started really picking up the language. I tested intermediate in my language eval...not enough to be an interpreter, but comfortable to chat & get the job done.

~~

You know, it's the kind of experience where it's going to test you. And, I specifically applied for that reason. After returning 'home' from Australia, I'd had this feeling of gratefulness. When anything went funky, I'd sit on my bed & think..."I have a bed! I have food! I have..." It all felt comfortable & secure. Not that Australia isn't secure, but...being penniless in a strange city lead me into some strange situations involving housework & babysitting for prostitutes & being stalked by a middle eastern exiled martial artist who would actually sneak into my locked room to watch me sleep! I was SO happy to be home!

Well, after a few years, I just didn't feel that sense of gratefulness as strongly. It was easier to be discontent. So, I thought, "What can I do to make myself grow & have that feeling again?!" Peace Corps!

It was my second time applying. I'd applied quite young, with no schooling or experience. I research every country thoroughly and I'd been quite picky about where I wanted to go.
I didn't even get a letter.

The second time, I had 2 degrees, and I wasn't picky at all.

Meeting people who have so little & still manage to be so loving & generous & joyful...really helped to me see what was important. And what was true necessity. That's why I find it so easy to live without many modern conveniences. They are convenient, but so what? As long as I have everything I truly need, and some of what I want...that's enough.

~~

After I came home, and for many years...I would always recommend PC to anyone. It's better than an exchange, because you get more support, while having autonomy. I'm still supportive of the experience, but not willing to be given 15 vaccinations in 15 weeks! There have been some serious issues with safety, even death. Truly, that was always a risk, as volunteers are on their own (no bodyguards) out in the field, unless they call for help, which is available if you want an evac. There are more supports in place now, for the mental health of volunteers, which is great.

Well, that was a ramble! More if interested...


message 38: by Siobhan (new)

Siobhan Johnson | 260 comments Would I be able to use Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World by Laura Spinney for option 1 under the health area of service for Fiji? Apparently the Spanish flu killed 5%(!) of the population there when it happened, and I think it would assist in my "chosen area of service" by helping me understand and deal with pandemics better.

Thanks in advance!


message 39: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments It appears to be nonfiction & health related (though not noted for any genres). Therefore, it is acceptable.


message 40: by Siobhan (new)

Siobhan Johnson | 260 comments Thank you! I think it came out only this month, so genres may take a while


message 41: by Nicole (last edited Jun 16, 2017 01:59PM) (new)

Nicole | 1314 comments ok so from your 5 star books, I chose Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore because I have been meaning to read it forever. For the education related book, I want to read Brain-Compatible Classroom: Using What We Know about Learning to Improve Teaching. Will that work?

never mind on that second one...apparently it has no genres listed


message 42: by Justme (last edited Jun 17, 2017 09:51AM) (new)

Justme | 258 comments Sorry guys (if I confused you), the task doesn't require genres, but it does require nonfiction. I am not sure if that means it must have a genre listed as nonfiction, esp if it is obvious...we could ask the mods.

Hope you enjoy it, Nicole...I immediately had to go find the other books!


message 43: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 15620 comments Mod
Justme wrote: "Sorry guys (if I confused you), the task doesn't require genres, but it does require nonfiction. I am not sure if that means it must have a genre listed as nonfiction, esp if it is obvious...we cou..."

No, nonfiction is not reliably listed as a main page genre. It is normally fairly easy to tell whether a book is fiction or nonfiction.


message 44: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 1314 comments Perfect. So my book about the brain and how it relates to the classroom works? :)


message 45: by Justme (new)

Justme | 258 comments I'd say so...if it fits your service area/explanation, it should be fine.


message 46: by Morgan (new)

Morgan (faeriesfolly) | 971 comments The Ancient Guide to Modern Life is one I've been wanting to check out for awhile. Wondering if that would work towards the education side of things -- always good to look back and learn from history in moving forward.

I went to choose and there's a wealth of choices for education so I'm set there. I think Kosovo, but really I'd be open to going wherever there was need. Just one of the places that stuck out to me when I was looking over the list from all the news while I was growing up.

(I could also go health, but I have to read enough of that right now for work that's not able to be counted for SRC so.... ;) English major usage it is!)

Would that be fitting the spirit of the task?


message 47: by Justme (last edited Jul 07, 2017 05:37AM) (new)

Justme | 258 comments Thanks for sharing...Kosovo is a new service country since I've been home, and I'm sure they could benefit from help. The first thing that comes to mind for me is the child labor during the government's cotton harvest.

Your book choice is nonfiction, so as long as you explain how it will assist you in the service area of Education, it will be accepted.

I'm reading one now that reminds me of that one...it covers the entire history of the planet from the pov of a living planet with many cooperative & interconnected critters & systems; it's fascinating to see it all brought together & explained as one system, instead of individual, separate parts.


message 48: by Morgan (new)

Morgan (faeriesfolly) | 971 comments Thanks! Oooh that sounds interesting. Almost like reading a planet Earth movie or something.


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