Recently retired, but wanting to extend my career and continue being useful. So, I have returned to my original plan when I was an undergraduate student at Penn State and the Peace Corps was created by then President Kennedy. I have applied to and been invited to serve in the Peace Corps. Now, 50 years later, I will realize my dream and will be serving in Macedonia from September 9, 2011 until November 23, 2013.



4 Responses to About

  1. Lew says:

    Lew, I am curious what the picture above is from.
    Love, Mary

  2. valarie says:

    hi lew, please email me at valarie.pelletier@gmail.com and i will send you answers to all your inquiries about PC EC/SLU.

  3. Marinel says:

    Hi, there. I am grateful to have ran into your blog. I’m exploring the idea of serving as a PCV in Macedonia in the area of community development. I am 39, so a much older PCV. I think one major adjustment would be to have to live with a host family for period of time when you have been used to your own space. I wanted to find out from you whether as an older PCV you were able to state your preference with PC regarding wanting your own space? I read that they may have changed the rules now and may require people to live with host families. Do you have any sense in terms of how accommodation PC would be in terms of an older PCV requesting for a much more independent/private space? Also, did you find your assignment challenging enough? I’m a prosecutor and would love to do something related to law and advocacy combined, perhaps monitoring compliance/working on human rights. I am geared towards children’s rights as well since I prosecute child abuse and neglect cases. I just hope the work is challenging enough. If you have any insight on the type of NGOs available in Macedonia, preferably those that are law-related, I’d love to hear it. Thanks for blogging – it is a very nice resource for future PCVs.

    • Hi and thanks for sending your questions. Having been in the Peace Corps twice, starting when I was 67 (2011-2013 & 2014-2015), I enjoy helping other “seasoned” applicants, volunteers and returned volunteers when I can.
      The PC policy and practice regarding home stays is constantly evolving and also varies from country to country. I believe that all PCTs (PC Trainees) are assigned to families during Pre Service training. This is for several reasons, not the least of which is for the benefits of immersion in the new culture, and initial language exposure.
      Many countries have home stay for the entire time of service, but that does not necessarily mean IN a host family’s house; it might be in a hut / house within a family compound. Safety is a big reason for this assignment.
      Some countries have backed off from home stay assignments for the entire duration of service, but are still requiring home stay for the first six months after swearing in (at the end of PST).
      For me, home stay might have been difficult to accept/adjust to, BUT I can say in retrospect that my language skills would have developed much more quickly and I would have gained a stronger, in depth understanding of the culture if I had been in a home stay. For me, at my age, adjusting to sharing another family’s house is a real challenge, and I found it difficult to get over feeling that I was imposing, especially when the host family sometimes had to sleep in the kitchen so I could have a private bedroom because the PC requires all volunteers to have a private, lockable room. The family was as hospitable as possible, but my values still made me feel more than awkward. Clashes of culture will occur no matter what.
      Regarding the chances of you getting a challenging &/or rewarding assignment for your background and skills, I cannot speak very positively. The PC staff do their best, but the assignments aren’t always there to be filled. However, you appear to have a fairly broad background and it is possible that the PC will have a spot for you that you will find enjoyment in generalizing your skills to meet new challenges. For example, my entire career has been working with children & youth in various settings (Child welfare, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, community mental health, Autism treatment consultant in schools and community-wide treatment program development. My assignment was with an NGO working to take mentally impaired adults out of government institutions and get them integrated into communities. I was able to transfer my skills to meet the challenges of developing programs to further the mission of the NGO.
      I also became known throughout the community for my background with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and strangers would stop me to ask me to visit their home and help them with their child because there were no ASD services in the entire country. Schools asked for consultations regarding challenging behavior management in the classrooms. I was invited to speak at graduate level classes in a university and I developed a 1:1 family training program which I conducted on my own time on weekends because the PC would not approve the work as a secondary project. So it went, and so it will go for you.
      Now, on another track, perhaps you would like to explore opportunities in the PC’s Response Program. The assignments are specifically for applicants with 10 or more years of professional experience. When I went into that program for my second tour of service, I was assigned to consult on the development of country-wide adolescent training programs to enhance their resiliency regarding cyber bullying which was causing a spike in teen suicides.
      So, I encourage you to continue exploring the PC opportunities and if you would like more personal communication in more detail, or about other questions, feel free to send me an email at: lew[dot]hemmer{at}gmail[dot]com – – – I write it that way to dodge hackers who scan the Internet to obtain addresses.

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