By Jonathan Pearson on Monday, August 23rd, 2010
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are everywhere, and sometimes make their presence known in places where you least expect it. Like the dentist’s chair.
Back in the early 1980s when Elaine McDermott (Kenya 82-83) of Greendale Wisconsin decided to join the Peace Corps, she undertook all the pre-service requirements. When the time came for her dental exam, Elaine contacted her dentist of the past decade, Allen Owen, and explained the reason for her special appointment. Allen told her he thought her decision to join the Peace Corps was a great idea. He spoke from experience. It was only then that Elaine learned Allen had served as a volunteer in Malawi from 1964-66. From his knowledge as a dentist and his experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV), Allen provided Elaine with a two years’ supply of toothbrushes, as well as a mirror and some basic dental tools – just in case.
Peace Corps families possess a serious commitment to passing the ideals of service and cultural understanding onto their children. As with many stops along this road trip, that was the case with Monica Bastardo (Dominican Republic 00-02) and her husband, Domingo. The couple met while Monica was serving as an education volunteer in the small fishing village of Miches. Monica and Domingo are raising their children – Ismael, Isabel, Gabriela and Thomas – to be bi-lingual, with an appreciation for the foods, music and cultures of other societies. But Monica says it goes deeper than that. “I hope they have a sense of what’s right and the need for building a more just and equitable future.” Domingo agreed, adding that the recent family trip to the DR is a step toward making sure the children “have a sense of the world outside the United States.”
This past weekend was move-in day for students attending the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. An ideal setting to promote NPCA’s My Piece of the Peace Corps video contest. A question at an information desk led to an encounter with the Dean of Students, who enthusiastically accepted contest flyers and said he will distribute them around campus. Will the grand prize winner be coming out of Milwaukee?
Milwaukee RPCVs have an impressive list of upcoming activities in place that will continue to take shape as they incorporate 50th anniversary celebrations into their schedule. “We are combining 50th activities with our annual summer picnic, and hope to hold at least one event with the Madison RPCVs,” said group President Katie Decker. For the moment, the Milwaukee group is preparing for a social gathering to connect with members of the Peace Corps community in nearby Racine, and gearing up for their annual Peace Corps Partnership Dinner in October.
Milwaukee events continue Monday evening. Follow this link for details on this and other upcoming stops on NPCA’s August road trip.