From Ecuador to U.S.: Returned volunteer welcomes Peace Corps counterpart to America

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, Clay Martin became close with his Ecuadorian counterpart, Alejandro. The Cincinnati native left Ecuador in 2010 and served in Peace Corps Panama, from 2011-13, but always remained close with Alejandro. Earlier this year, Alejandro visited Martin, who currently works as a human resource consultant for dairy farms and acts as a translator and liaison with Hispanic workers in Ithaca, New York. Below, Martin describes reuniting with Alejandro and sharing his home and culture with his Ecuadorian friend. 


Alejandro was raised in an isolated village, living his atavistic and vibrant culture in the lowland jungles of Ecuador. Growing up, he had limited access outside of his village and little exposure to people other than his own tribe. Alejandro eventually became a husband, father, shaman, farmer, cultural promoter and community leader. When Alejandro was 45 and I was 23, I had the privilege to go live and work with his village as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Three months after living with Alejandro’s family I wrote the following in my journal: “I honestly don’t think things could be any better. Right now I’m smiling and nodding my head as I listen to their traditional drums and think about the many paths that are being made for the future. I can already sense that my experience here is the beginning of something huge.” At that moment, I could not even fathom how “huge” that “something” was and where our friendship would take us seven years later. Continue reading “From Ecuador to U.S.: Returned volunteer welcomes Peace Corps counterpart to America”

Meet Your Peace Corps Central Recruiter: Danny Livengood

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Name: Danny Livengood
Country of Service: Malawi, 2007-09
Assignment: Education
Recruitment Territory: Columbus, Ohio Continue reading “Meet Your Peace Corps Central Recruiter: Danny Livengood”

West Chester, Ohio, resident begins Peace Corps service in Namibia


Cayla Huxhold, 22, of West Chester, Ohio, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Namibia July 22 to begin training as an education volunteer. Huxhold will make a difference teaching English to primary and secondary students.

“I wanted to join the Peace Corps to have experiences I would not otherwise have,” she said. “I hope these experiences will broaden my thinking and make me a better teacher and person.”

Huxhold is the daughter of David and Carol Huxhold and a 2009 graduate of Lakota West High School in West Chester. She graduated from Ohio University in Athens with bachelor’s degrees in communication sciences and disorders and teaching English as a second language in 2013.  Continue reading “West Chester, Ohio, resident begins Peace Corps service in Namibia”

Fostoria, Ohio, resident begins Peace Corps service in South Africa


Retired after a 44-year career at the University of Findlay, Sharon Gynell Milligan, 70, will now make a difference in the lives of a new group of students – on the other side of the world. Milligan, of Fostoria, Ohio, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for South Africa July 2 to begin training as an English education volunteer.

“I look forward to being able to serve others by sharing with them some of the lessons and blessings I have experienced in my life,” she said. “I’m anxious to begin this new adventure and believe that the best in my life is yet to come!” Continue reading “Fostoria, Ohio, resident begins Peace Corps service in South Africa”

For Ohio family with 8 returned Peace Corps volunteers, service is in the blood

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All three Nighswander siblings, pictured with their spouses, served in the Peace Corps. From left: Tom and Ruth Nighswander, returned health volunteers who served in Malawi; Alan and Sue Boyd, who served in Ethiopia; and Tim and Diane Nighswander. Tim served in Liberia.

Athens, Ohio, resident Sue Boyd says hers is a “Peace Corps family from the early days,” but that statement doesn’t do justice to her family’s remarkable Peace Corps tradition. In fact, the Boyd-Nighswander legacy of service spans decades, generations, and continents – and it could continue to grow. “Maybe we’ll have more volunteers in the generation coming up,” Sue said. “Who knows?”

Those future volunteers would join Sue and her two younger brothers, Tom and Tim Nighswander, all returned volunteers and Kent State University alums. The three siblings served with their spouses in Peace Corps in Africa decades ago. Sue and her husband, Alan, served in Ethiopia as English teaching volunteers from 1964-66.

“We were in the early days of Peace Corps, and we were called Kennedy’s Children,” Sue, 75, said. “So there was a sense of service to country, but also a sense of adventure and wanting to see and learn about a different part of the world.” Continue reading “For Ohio family with 8 returned Peace Corps volunteers, service is in the blood”

Deerfield, Ill., Peace Corps volunteer works to create art school for youth in Georgia

Peace Corps volunteer Michael Shvartsman leads a training while working in Georgia.

Peace Corps volunteer Michael Shvartsman of Deerfield, Ill., is working with his community in the country of Georgia to create an art school for young people. A portion of the funds for the project will be raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), which helps support Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide.

“The project will include exhibitions and performances by art clubs,” Shvartsman, 25, said. “For example, if the stage arts club puts on a dramatic performance, the clothing design club can make the costumes, while the fine arts club makes background scenery. Through these performances and exhibitions, we will encourage discussion about art, culture, and societal issues throughout the community.”

The project started when a former volunteer teamed up with a local artist to hold an embroidery workshop for area children. That effort was so successful the pair started work on creating an entire art school. When the volunteer finished his 27-month service, Shvartsman stepped in to complete the project and helped secure a $10,000 grant from the Open Society Georgia Foundation.

“OSGF did not permit the purchase of any equipment or materials, so we applied for PCPP funds,” Shvartsman said. “Once we have raised the needed amount, we will be ready to open!” Continue reading “Deerfield, Ill., Peace Corps volunteer works to create art school for youth in Georgia”