Ready to Serve, and Serve Again
By Jonathan Pearson on Saturday, June 18th, 2011
College Station is home to Texas A&M University, where a spirit of shared history and tradition, service, love of country and fellowship form a strong camaraderie and bond between the city and the school. Military service is at the foundation of that history and tradition. But service through the Peace Corps is also evident. Sometimes, those different forms of service intersect.
College Station is the current home of Kevin and Linnae Fath, northeast Ohio transplants and Peace Corps applicants who just submitted their medical information with the hope of placement by year’s end.
Kevin has already served his country. He was twice deployed to Iraq with the Ohio 350th Army Reserve between late 2004 and late 2008. Kevin says in retrospect he was glad to have had a second deployment, as it came after the U.S. troop surge, and presented the possibilities of participating in development assistance.
Growing up on a farm provided Kevin with an opportunity to serve as a conduit between Iraqi citizens and U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), charged with advancing development initiatives. “I would ask (the Iraqis) questions about agriculture as an icebreaker, and gather some of that information for the PRTs.” It was his military experience, and the potential role of development in preventing conflict, that contributed to Kevin’s interest in Peace Corps service.
For Linnae, the possibility of Peace Corps service has lingered for years. “I’ve known about Peace Corps since I was a child. It’s always been a goal of mine.” With a masters degree from Ohio State in Development Economics and current work at A&M’s English Language Institute, Linnae says she is ready to serve, but laughs as she admits her only reluctance is leaving behind her dog, Abe (who will be cared for by Linnae’s mother).
With their country assignment still very much up in the air (“We have no idea”, says Linnae), the final decision will coincide with Kevin’s current graduate work. As part of the Master’s International Program at the university, the couple says their placement will need to coincide with Kevin’s research and thesis while pursuing a degree in International Agriculture Development. As of now, they say that could land them in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa or Central Asia.
And what about being among the seven percent of volunteers who serve their country while married? “I feel fortunate,” says Kevin. Linnae nods in agreement. “We hear lots of stories of how (Peace Corps service) can be lonely. That you can have someone you can share it with, that’s something special that we will always be able to share together.”