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thanks for the info Meggan

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  • Crystal Brown
    YEAH!!!! This is the type of information I was interested in obtaining. Thanks for posting this message Meggan!!!! I really wanted a perspective from a person
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 27, 2006
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      YEAH!!!! This is the type of information I was interested in obtaining. Thanks for posting this message Meggan!!!! I really wanted a perspective from a person of color. By any chance do you have her contact information? Did you get the article from the PC website?
       
      Thanks,
       
      Crystal

      Meggan <megg9821@...> wrote:
      African-American Peace Corps Volunteer Builds Cross-Cultural
      Relationships in Armenia

      In celebration of the 45th anniversary, this is the continuation of
      a series featuring diverse Peace Corps volunteers.

      WASHINGTON, D.C., March 23, 2006 – When Nicole "Nicki" Hendrix, a
      Peace Corps volunteer from Los Angeles arrived at her site in the
      former Soviet republic of Armenia in 2004, her presence caused quite
      a stir: the 35-year old community development volunteer was the
      first African-American to ever live and work in the village.

      Upon her arrival, Hendrix had large groups of people, young and old,
      who came running up to her while calling out the "n-word" — one of
      the most hurtful racial slurs imaginable to Hendrix. She didn't know
      it then, but this was the only word most of the local Armenians knew
      for "African-American." She later learned that during the Soviet
      Era, although students were taught about the history of African-
      Americans in America, school books referred to African-Americans by
      the racial slur. Many Armenians, Hendrix discovered, were not aware
      of the negative connotation that word has in the United States.


      Changing perceptions: Nicki Hendrix and the mayor of her host
      community in ArmeniaAlthough she was shocked by the greeting that
      first day, she didn't turn around and leave — she had a job to do, a
      job that became even more critical as a result of that initial
      greeting.

      "I use each encounter involving the word's usage as a chance to
      teach Armenians about African-Americans and our history, if they are
      not familiar with it. It also gives me the opportunity to tell those
      who do not already know that the U.S. is a very ethnically diverse
      country with people from many different nationalities and ethnic
      groups that live and work there," Hendrix said of her experience of
      dispelling stereotypes in an ethnically-homogeneous society like
      Armenia.

      Hendrix set out to not only accomplish her goals as a community
      development volunteer, but also to help change the perception of
      African-Americans in Armenia by helping to eradicate the use of the
      racial slur. "The challenge is getting people to see things
      differently and to embrace the unfamiliar, instead of the familiar.
      I know this will not happen overnight, but I am at least planting
      the seed for change in the people that I meet. I believe these
      experiences define my minority Peace Corps volunteer experience:
      educating and introducing a different aspect of American culture to
      the people of Armenia," she said.

      Since she arrived in Armenia, Hendrix feels she has made a real
      impact on her village. Working with the members of her community,
      Hendrix helped renovate a local park ("Peace Park"), which services
      not only her town, but also the seventeen surrounding villages.
      During the Soviet Era, the park was once considered the central
      meeting place for the exchange of culture, business and fun for
      children and adults. But when the Soviet Era ended, the town could
      no longer afford to maintain it; the equipment became dilapidated
      and was later taken away for fuel and heating during the initial
      tumultuous years of becoming a newly independent state.

      For nearly a decade, the renovation of the park had been a top
      priority among community members, businesses, and the town's
      municipality, to provide the villagers with a place to rest,
      exercise and communicate with each other — and to prevent people
      from taking the park land for their own personal use. Hendrix said
      she was glad to be able to help assist the members of her community
      in making their dream come true. The park now serves a population of
      over 100,000 people.

      Nearly two years have passed and Hendrix's service in Armenia is
      almost finished. "I can honestly say that I am not the same person I
      was before becoming a Peace Corps volunteer. I am a better person. I
      am able to see all sides of an issue or situation. My views on life
      and people are no longer narrow — they are multifaceted and global.
      I am confident and self-assured in my skills and abilities, and best
      of all, I am a more compassionate person," Hendrix said.

      Serving as a minority volunteer has not been easy for Hendrix, but
      she has learned a great deal from the experience. "The most
      prominent challenge I faced upon arriving to my host country was
      getting the host country nationals to see me as a person instead of
      an object. As an African-American living in Armenia, I received a
      lot more attention than my fellow Caucasian Peace Corps volunteers,"
      she said. "I find that some Armenians are still learning how to
      treat foreigners who look differently than them."

      Hendrix noted that her presence in Armenia has also helped some host
      country nationals see that all African-Americans are not just
      entertainers and athletes, because she is neither. According to
      Hendrix, her presence also showed Armenians — who are unfamiliar
      with the concept of volunteerism — that African-Americans volunteer
      to serve others, too.

      "Being a minority Peace Corps volunteer has made the world seem
      smaller. We all have the same fears, hurts, pains, problems, issues,
      and we all want to be loved, respected, heard, accepted, successful,
      happy, and needed. We just say it in different languages and with
      different customs," said Hendrix.

      "We can all help each other if we have a desire to do so. In every
      country, there are the 'haves and have-nots,' and in each country,
      there are those who are trying to rid the world of divisiveness and
      make the world a better place for everyone. I believe that the U.S.
      Peace Corps is one of many organizations that is trying to make the
      world a better place for everyone, regardless of race, class, creed,
      or educational background. I believe that my service as a minority
      Peace Corps volunteer helps to get this message across to the people
      in my region and the country at large."

      The Peace Corps has been sending volunteers to Armenia since 1992.
      Throughout the country, volunteers work in the fields of business
      and community development, education, health and environment. There
      are currently 86 volunteers serving in Armenia and, since the
      program's inception, 442 volunteers have served. To learn more about
      Armenia, please visit the Where Do Volunteers Go? section.

      The Peace Corps is celebrating a 45-year legacy of service at home
      and abroad, and a 30-year high for volunteers in the field. Since
      1961, more than 182,000 volunteers have helped promote a better
      understanding between Americans and the people of the 138 countries
      where volunteers have served. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S.
      citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-
      month commitment.

      ###

        
       






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