22 March, 2014

Why NOT to join the Peace Corps

Interested in joining the Peace Corps? Here is a link, with 5 reasons that should make you think twice...not because they are bad reasons, but because they are TRUE. This is part of the reality of Peace Corps life...

Love and Peace,

Oh, and here's a picture I took the other day while in Okahandja...this sky is amazing!

12 March, 2014

Rest in Peace Ashley Earl

Lately, days seem to be a rollercoaster of emotions -
between work-related happenings, cultural adjustments, and missing friends and family.

But Sunday made life a little tougher, here in Namibia, for us Volunteers.
I have been in Windhoek since Sunday, to mourn the loss, but celebrate the life, 
of Ashley Earl - one of the Volunteers, who lived up north with me. 
She had just completed her service....
All of the volunteers have been here for each other, which has helped us get through this tough, yet confusing time. It's been really nice to be here for my friends who were in her group, and for those who were great, great friends with her. It's also been good for all of us, to be around each other - fellow Volunteers, fellow Americans.

Ashley, may you rest in peace. You and your crazy, fun, sweet spirit will always be in our hearts and minds, and with us through the rest of our service, and beyond. I am thankful I got to know you for a short time over here in Oland in Namibia, and will always think of your smile and laugh! You were one of the most confident, strongest women I knew (I think we all feel this way!) and that has helped inspire me, and the rest of us Volunteers. I only hope that someday I can be half as strong as you! And even with that strength, you were also one of the sweetest, most patient and kind people I have met. I remember you saying to me "You know, when I first met you, I wasn't sure about you. But yeah, I like you." And you were never afraid to "tell it like it is" or how you felt. Though you did it in a way that was never attacking a person's character. You said exactly how you felt, and we all love that about you! 
We are all still in shock and sadness and anger, and wishing our questions could be answered. But I know you're looking down at us, probably rolling your eyes at the fact that tears have flowed for you over the last few days, and during the memorial service yesterday. :) PCNam will never ever forget you and your commitment, friendship and service, to your friends, your family (who you LOVED to tell us all about!), the children you helped here, and all of us volunteers. 

Miss you my friend!

And here in the official press release from the Peace Corps:

Peace Corps Mourns the Loss of Volunteer Ashley Earl
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 10, 2014 – Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet is saddened to confirm the death of Peace Corps volunteer Ashley Earl. Ashley, 30, passed away in her host community of Oshakati, Namibia on Saturday.

“Ashley was an exceptional Peace Corps volunteer, deeply engaged in her work with the youth of Oshakati,” Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “The entire Peace Corps family is devastated by this loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.”

Ashley, of Kent, Wash., entered service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Namibia on March 13, 2012. Since that time, she has been serving as a community health volunteer, working with Catholic AIDS Action and coordinating after-school activities for youth in her community of Oshakati, in northern Namibia.

Peace Corps Namibia staff describe Ashley as “gregarious, engaging and unfailingly polite,” and as a volunteer who “cared deeply for her students, and taught them to show respect for others as well as respect for themselves.”
Ashley’s fellow volunteers, counterparts and friends in her community loved her spirit, frequent laughter and quick wit. Ashley referred to the children she worked with as “my kids,” and her colleagues said that those children were “so much better off for having her in their lives.”  

A graduate of Central Washington University, Ashley earned a Bachelor of Arts in law and justice, and in sociology, as well as a master’s degree in social work from Eastern Washington University. Her commitment to service began prior to joining the Peace Corps, as she served for six years in the United States Army Reserve, and worked as a visitation facilitator at the Spokane, Wash., Child Abuse network, at the Women’s Studies Center of Cheney, Wash., and at the Veterans’ Coalition of Ellensburg, Wash.

At the start of her Peace Corps service, Ashley pointed to her “determination” as the professional attribute she would most rely on, and said that while “a person might not be able to help everyone, I will feel fulfilled if I could help as many as want to be helped.” She wrote, “I am hoping that I will be able to instill or inspire positive change in the community I will be working with.”

Ashley was an avid reader with a thirst for knowledge who also enjoyed watching movies, doing needlepoint and exercising in her spare time. She is survived by her parents, Phylliss and Lee Lundquist, and her beloved sister, Stacy Earl, in Washington state. 

p.s. Thank you so much to all of the Peace Corps Staff and Trainers - even though we are all going thru this together, you have helped us Volunteers in so so many ways during this tragic time, with the extra time and effort you have made for each of us, and all you are doing for Ashley and her family back at home! Thank you all sooo much again....