Twin Cities Peace Corps volunteer strives to protect Peru’s environmental resources

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Natalie Lake, a Twin Cities resident and Northwestern University alum, has been making a difference as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru since September 2012. In honor of World Environment Day, we’re highlighting some of the amazing work she’s doing, as reported on Peace Corps’ Passport blog.

Peru faces a host of environmental challenges, from trash management to deforestation. But Natalie Lake has a host of projects to combat them.

Through municipality and grant support, Lake has helped install a wind turbine at a high school, led an environmental youth group, and crafted a monthly beach clean-up campaign. Continue reading “Twin Cities Peace Corps volunteer strives to protect Peru’s environmental resources”

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

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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”

Minnesota, Twin Cities rank as top producers of Peace Corps volunteers in 2013

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St. Paul residents Joshua Cook and Jennifer Klein are serving as Peace Corps volunteers in Ethiopia.

CHICAGO — Minnesota again this year ranks among the top-producing states, per capita, for Peace Corps volunteers. Currently, Minnesota produces 3.8 volunteers for every 100,000 state residents, making it No. 8 among states per capita in 2013.

Minnesota also ranks No. 13 among all states in total volunteers produced, with 206 currently serving Peace Corps volunteers calling Minnesota home.

Within Minnesota, the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington area is home to 150 active Peace Corps volunteers and ranks No. 9 among metropolitan areas nationwide in total Peace Corps volunteers produced. Continue reading “Minnesota, Twin Cities rank as top producers of Peace Corps volunteers in 2013”

Married St. Paul Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Ethiopia use blog to stay connected with U.S.

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Joshua Cook and Jennifer Klein, far right, present their blog along with other volunteer winners of Peace Corps’ “Blog it Home” contest at the Third Goal Mobilization Summit in Washington, D.C.

Peace Corps’ first-ever Third Goal Mobilization Summit in Washington, D.C., last month brought together returned Peace Corps volunteers from across the country to exchange ideas and acquire new tools to help Americans better understand the countries where volunteers serve. But the conference also featured currently-serving volunteers who are getting a head start on Third Goal and using technology to share their Peace Corps experiences in real time.

Six volunteer winners of Peace Corps’ “Blog It Home” contest traveled from their countries of service to present their blogs at the summit and discuss how they are using technology to bring the world home. Jennifer Klein and Joshua Cook, a married couple from St. Paul, Minn., were two of the winners.

“Our experience in D.C. was amazing!” Klein said. “It was strange to be back in the U.S., but so great at the same time. To us, blogging seems so natural for a Peace Corps volunteer, but many members of the summit’s audience saw blogging in a different light and asked very engaging questions.” Continue reading “Married St. Paul Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Ethiopia use blog to stay connected with U.S.”

Peace Corps Volunteer promotes environmental awareness, inspires community to rethink trash

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Community members pile into their boat during the trash boat race in Vanuatu.

Peace Corps volunteer Gaea Dill-D’Ascoli of Minneapolis, Minn., recently organized a week-long trash cleanup in Vanuatu with more than 140 members of her community youth center to increase environmental awareness. Following the cleanup, she encouraged participants to think creatively about alternative uses for trash by dividing participants into teams to build boats out of the trash they collected for a race in the city’s central harbor.

“By using trash picked up during the cleanup to create boats, I hoped to show people that trash can be reused and should not be dumped in a landfill or thrown on the side of the road,” said Dill-D’Ascoli, who has been living and working in Vanuatu since September 2010. “I grew up in Minneapolis where each year there is a milk carton boat race as part of an annual festival. I thought this race would be a great way to raise awareness and have fun while helping to clean up the community.”  Continue reading “Peace Corps Volunteer promotes environmental awareness, inspires community to rethink trash”

Minnesota, Twin Cities among top producers of Peace Corps volunteers in 2012

 

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Volunteer Danielle Stoermer, from Wayzata, Minn., works with children on an agriculture lesson in Senegal.

Minnesota again this year ranks among the top-producing states, per capita, for Peace Corps volunteers. Currently, Minnesota produces 4.4 volunteers for every 100,000 state residents, making it No. 8 among states per capita in 2012.

Minnesota also ranks No. 14 among all states in total volunteers produced, with 233 currently serving Peace Corps volunteers calling Minnesota home.

Danielle Stoermer, a Peace Corps agriculture volunteer serving in Senegal, volunteered at a food pantry, helped raise funds for affordable housing, and participated in other community service activities in her hometown of Wayzata, Minn., before she departed for service.

“One of the biggest things that inspired me to join Peace Corps was how Minnesotans are so grounded; there is a strong connection to the earth and to agriculture,” Stoermer said. “They truly love their neighbors, whether that person is literally next door or thousands of miles away.” Continue reading “Minnesota, Twin Cities among top producers of Peace Corps volunteers in 2012”