Hansen: Peace Corps service left her with doubts
Diana Darge of West Des Moines couldn't wait to get to Armenia and begin training English teachers as a proud new Peace Corps volunteer.
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#1 Apr 22, 2011
I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia, I even met Diana. First off I can say that the Article got some of the things wrong. Some minor things like saying that volunteers had to carry a "Go Bag" everywhere they went. Not true, we were told to have one where we lived in case we needed to leave quickly but we never traveled with them. Of course she spent 4 1/2 hours a day in a classroom learning Armenian. They tell you this before you leave America. It is called Pre-Service Training and lasts for about 10 weeks. How could you expect to live in a country if you can not master the basics of the language? The language they teach is not slang, but it works well to communicate with just about everyone in the country. It might sound a little formal in rural areas but they can understand it. I will say I can believe the doctors might have said that, many volunteers had issues with the medical care we received.
But Diana was not really there long enough to experience Armenia. Sure it is a poor country but they have won the world chess championship the last two years. They pride themselves on that and the fact that they were the "Silicon Valley" of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately a lot of issues have led to a serious brain drain leaving them in bad shape.
Many people commented on teaching English as a useless skill, well that just isn't true. If you can speak English you are much more likely to get a good job. Many companies in Armenia, especially Yerevan, deal with foreign companies or are partly owned by foreign companies, speaking English is a necessity. I found many people eager to learn English and even though that was not my primary responsibility in the country I found myself helping students who wanted to learn English.
One thing about the family she lived with. I seriously doubt they were dependend on the money from the Peace Corps. They probably liked it but did not depend on it. They were doing OK, by Armenian standards, before she got there and are doing fine after she left.
I wish Diana would have stayed longer in the country. There are a lot of problems in Armenia but there are many more wonderful things to see and the people are wonderful, you just have to put forth a lot of effort to learn the language first. You don't need to speak like it is your native tongue but you need to be able to communicate. If you try people recognize the effort and you find a way to communicate.
“The Truth Will Manifest”
Since: Mar 10
#2 Apr 22, 2011
Cool story, bro...
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