A shared dream: sister follows brother into Peace Corps service

Helen (left) will begin her Peace Corps service in Vanuatu on Jan. 21. Her brother Joseph (right) is currently serving as a youth development volunteer in Ecuador.
Helen (left) will begin her Peace Corps service in Vanuatu as a hygiene education and water sanitation volunteer on Jan. 21. Her brother Joseph (right) is currently serving as a youth development volunteer in Ecuador.

Siblings share many things throughout childhood, from hand-me-downs, to toys, to rooms and last names. But Helen and Joseph Amiri of Marquette, Mich., had something bigger in common: the dream to grow up and depart for the Peace Corps.

On Jan. 21, both siblings can check that dream off their bucket list as Helen will follow in her younger brother’s footsteps as she departs for Peace Corps in Vanuatu.  Helen, 27, will serve as a hygiene education and water sanitation volunteer and assess her community’s health needs and use local resources to implement healthy water and sanitation practices. She will also work with community health committees and health centers to improve and strengthen Vanuatu’s current healthcare system. Continue reading “A shared dream: sister follows brother into Peace Corps service”

Kalkaska, Mich., native begins Peace Corps service in Vanuatu

Aaron Hilliker Picture

Aaron Hilliker, 22, of Kalkaska, Mich., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Vanuatu on Jan. 21 to begin training as a hygiene education and water sanitation volunteer. Hilliker will work at the community level to assess the community’s health needs, using local resources to raise awareness about using clean water and healthy sanitation practices. He will also work with health committees, healthcare providers and village workers to improve Vanuatu’s healthcare system and practices.

“My counselor at Aquinas College recommended that I apply for the Peace Corps,” said Hilliker. “It was a viable alternative to going to graduate school, and the hands-on experience that could be learned from the Peace Corps was something that really interested me.” Continue reading “Kalkaska, Mich., native begins Peace Corps service in Vanuatu”

Meet Your Peace Corps Recruiter: Natalie Felton

Me and Host Brother BenjaminName: Natalie Felton
Country of Service: Vanuatu, 2011-15
Assignment: Education
Recruitment Focus: Diverse populations

The desire to travel stirred my decision to apply for Peace Corps in 2010. After living and working in Southern France for two and half years, I wanted to challenge myself with a more rustic experience. My dream was to serve in West Africa. I wanted to get back to my roots, immerse myself into the local culture, food and music and return back to the U.S with an intimate relationship and understanding of my ancestors.  I wanted to give back to my host country; share my knowledge, education and resources, providing an addition to local custom and tradition.

Though my path did not direct me to Senegal, Guinea or Mali, my path did allow for me to immerse into the rich, tropical and Melanesian culture of Vanuatu. I was fortunate to have been accepted to extend my contract twice in the South Pacific. Continue reading “Meet Your Peace Corps Recruiter: Natalie Felton”

After Peace Corps service, Twin Cities couple hope to continue making a difference with martial arts exchange program

Ritenour.Jason_Vanuatu
Peace Corps volunteer Jason Ritenour referees a martial arts match in his community in Vanuatu.

Over three years, Twin Cities natives Gaea Dill-D’Ascoli and Jason Ritenour made a difference as Peace Corps volunteers in Vanuatu with community health and sanitation work, computer classes, and youth development projects. Having completed their service before Christmas, the married couple are now traveling in southeast Asia but already are working on a new endeavor that could change the lives of children in their community for years to come – a martial arts exchange program that will bring students to the U.S. for training.

“We want to bring three youth to the U.S. for six months of training,” Dill-D’Ascoli said. “We chose two young women and one young man, in hopes that the women will continue to encourage and promote more girls and young women in the class. At the end of the six months, all of them will return to Vanuatu where they will teach classes.” Continue reading “After Peace Corps service, Twin Cities couple hope to continue making a difference with martial arts exchange program”

Mount Sterling, Ky., resident begins Peace Corps service in Vanuatu

Wilson.Lynda_Vanuatu_1.23.14

Lynda Mae Wilson, 32, of Mount Sterling, Ky., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Vanuatu Jan. 23 to begin training as a health extension volunteer. Wilson will live and work at the community level to make a difference by raising awareness about health education, maternal and child health, and basic nutrition and sanitation.

“I love helping people and traveling, and I have always wanted to live in another country,” Wilson said. “The Peace Corps will allow me to learn more about myself and developing communities, and it will add international experience into my personal and professional toolkit.” Continue reading “Mount Sterling, Ky., resident begins Peace Corps service in Vanuatu”

Ann Arbor residents begin Peace Corps service in Vanuatu

Cullen.Alexis and Steven_Vanuatu

Watching her seventh-grade science teacher in Troy, Mich., share photos and stories from his Peace Corps service ignited a desire in Alexis Cullen to join the Peace Corps herself one day. Some 15 years later, her dream is coming to fruition alongside her husband, Steven. The Ann Arbor residents will depart Jan. 23 to begin training in Vanuatu, where they will live and work at the community level during their 27-month international assignment.

As an English education volunteer, Steven, 27, will teach conversational and content-based English to middle- and high-school students. Alexis, 29, will help local health workers teach community members about maternal and child health, basic nutrition and sanitation, and other pressing health issues. Continue reading “Ann Arbor residents begin Peace Corps service in Vanuatu”

St. Louis resident begins Peace Corps service in Vanuatu

Jen Nadler_Vanuatu_1.23.2013

Jennifer Nadler, 23, of St. Louis, Mo., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Vanuatu Jan. 23 to begin training as an education volunteer. Nadler will live and work at the community level to make a difference teaching conversational and content-based English to middle- and high-school students.

“I applied to Peace Corps to gain cultural awareness and enhance my skills in education,” Nadler said. Continue reading “St. Louis resident begins Peace Corps service in Vanuatu”