North Dakota native finds a new perspective through Peace Corps

washing clothes

The in-home washer and dryer is a convenience many Americans take for granted, but returned Peace Corps volunteer Westen Thomas knows another way. For two years, he scrubbed and cleaned his own laundry by hand, under the harsh Cambodian sun and surrounded by the noises of daily village life. In time, the hard work became a reward in itself.

“I miss the sounds of roaming animals, the chatter and laughing of the nearby neighbors, and those one to two hours of time to just think about life,” Thomas said. “In a way, hand washing my laundry became my weekly meditation.”

Continue reading “North Dakota native finds a new perspective through Peace Corps”

Hettinger, N.D., resident begins Peace Corps service in Fiji

Jamie Lynn Rosencrans, 32, of Hettinger, N.D., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Fiji Sept. 3 to begin training as a health extension volunteer. Rosencrans will make a difference collaborating with the Ministry of Health on existing health programs, focusing on research on diabetes and heart disease and the promotion of water sanitation and hygiene practices.

“My personal opinion is that, for better or worse, the privileges and opportunities I have been granted in life by being born and educated in America require that I have a particularly strong obligation to give back, not only in my local community, but in my global community,” Rosencrans said. Continue reading “Hettinger, N.D., resident begins Peace Corps service in Fiji”

Fargo, N.D., resident begins Peace Corps service in Nicaragua

 Rheault.Alex_NicaraguaAlexandra Rheault, 22, originally from Fargo, N.D., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Nicaragua Aug. 13 to begin training as an environmental education volunteer. Rheault will live and work in a community to promote environmental awareness activities such as wastewater management, recycling, environmental youth clubs, and park management.

“I have volunteered all my life, and I am excited to travel and learn more about myself and another culture,” she said.

Rheault is the daughter of Tony and Abby Rheault, of Boise, Idaho, and a 2009 graduate of Fargo South High School. She graduated from the University of Idaho in Moscow with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. Continue reading “Fargo, N.D., resident begins Peace Corps service in Nicaragua”

Mandan, N.D., resident begins Peace Corps service in Cambodia

Thomas.Westen_Cambodia

Westen Thomas, 28, of Mandan, N.D., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Cambodia July 10 to begin training as a health extension volunteer. Thomas will make a difference on projects related to maternal and child health and infectious disease prevention and treatment.

“Having an interest in other cultures, I wanted a unique cultural experience that would allow me to be fully immersed in another culture for an extended period of time, while being able to contribute my skills and knowledge to help a community in need and make a difference in the world,” Thomas said. Continue reading “Mandan, N.D., resident begins Peace Corps service in Cambodia”

North Dakota returned Peace Corps volunteers, applicants share experiences over dinner

North Dakota RPCV potluck

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and applicants preparing to depart for service came together at a potluck dinner in Hickson, N.D., near Fargo, in January. Attendees swapped stories and memories from their experiences overseas and ate a variety of foods traditional to the countries they had served in. The event was held at the home of Sally and Dan Rugroden, who served together in the Dominican Republic from 1976 to 1978. The North Dakota returned volunteers also gather annually to celebrate Peace Corps Day on March 1.

Back row: Returned volunteers Lois Schneider (India); Judy Jacobson (Thailand); Sally Rugroden (Dominican Republic); David Weinrich (Ghana and Liberia); Mike Headrick (Nepal); Mary Jane Haugen (Ukraine)
Front row: Nominees Jesse and Jamie White; applicant Kayla Schneider; returned volunteers Billi Jo and Marc Zielinski (Turkmenistan). Billi Jo is wearing shoes from Turkmenistan.