Guatemala RPCV Receives Award for Ongoing Committment to Human Rights
By JoAnna Haugen on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
Amanda Martin, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala from 1993 to 1996, and is now the director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission in Washington, D.C., was recently recognized by the University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work with the Alumna of the Year Award for her ongoing committment to human rights in Guatemala.
According to Dennis Poole, Dean of the College of Social Work, Ms. Martin completed joint graduate degrees in social work and public health at the University of South Carolina. “Every year the College of Social Work recognizes one of some 5,000 graduates of the Master of social Work program for outstanding contributions at the highest level of professional practice. [Ms. Martin's] leadership as Director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission and her service in the Peace Corps reflect the values and highest standards of the social work profession in combating injustice and in promoting positive social change.”
Martin joined the Guatemala Human Rights Commission in 2008, but her work for human rights began long before that. After serving with the Peace Corps in Guatemala, where she worked with women’s cooperatives on animal husbandry and agricultural projects, Martin was inspired to continue working for community-based grassroots development. During her time at the University of South Carolina she worked as director of a Latino community center, a bilingual social worker at the local hospital, a bilingual counselor for Latino men convicted of domestic violence, and an interpreter for the state health department. Since the end of her Peace Corps service Martin has also done important work in Colombia and Bolivia to examine the impact of U.S. foreign policy there and bring about positive change.
Peace Corps, says Martin, was the most important factor that has allowed her to pursue her current work. She says, “my daily work depends on my cultural, linguistic, political, and historical understanding of Guatemala; the groundwork was set through my time serving in Suchitepequez, living in a Guatemalan village, sharing and learning from the Mayan people.”