Bulgaria; Chile; Kenya: Peace Corps Becomes a Family Tradition
Some things run in families—blue eyes, or dimples, or a streak of stubbornness—they are the physical and sometimes personality traits that make it easy for people to identify one person as the relative of another. It’s not even that unusual to come across a family of doctors, lawyers or writers, but a family composed of children willing if not eager to volunteer thousands of miles from home. That’s a bit different.
For one Mystic family joining the Peace Corps is a bit of a family tradition. Brothers Joshua Brewster 38, Dean Avery 30, and Latham Avery 27, all joined the Peace Corps. It started with Joshua, who after college and a few years of teaching decided to apply to the Peace Corps.
“It had been a dream of mine for several years,” Joshua said. “The headmaster at Williams School when I was a student there, Steve Denenberg, would often talk about his Peace Corps experience and it piqued my interest. In college, I met with a Peace Corps recruiter and went to several on-campus Peace Corps recruiting events where I met returned volunteers. I was further inspired, but I never felt like I had enough to offer. After college and after teaching for a while I applied, feeling like I might be able to make a difference and I was looking for an adventure.”
Several years later, Dean followed in his older brother’s footsteps, sort of. Instead of going to Bulgaria, Dean ended up in Santiago in the Dominican Republic. He is currently still there working with Accion Callejera, a foundation that provides educational and recreational activities, health care and meals to out of school children. Many of them work instead of going to school.
“I’ve gained so much greater learning about what’s necessary and what’s not,” Dean said about his experience, which included not having some modern comforts such as electricity. “The things that matter are having connections and you see people who are happier in a different sense without the modern comforts.”
Dean extended his Peace Corps service to three years instead of the traditional 27 months. And Latham wasn’t far behind brothers. The University of South Carolina graduate student worked with his school to arrange for his graduate program to include a break from school for the chance to volunteer in Kenya.
“I wanted to serve in Africa for several reasons,” Latham said. “Primarily, it's one of the regions that could arguably benefit the most from assistance, at least in terms of public health. It also seemed to be the most starkly different from how I grew up, and so would be the best learning experience. And I think I was drawn to the culture and lifestyle; the idea of "Africa" just holds a certain allure.”
Latham was 14 when Joshua began his application, and he said his brothers joining the Peace Corps definitely influenced him to volunteer.
“When I was 16 and Josh was finishing his term of service, I was able to fly to Bulgaria to spend several weeks with him, which really solidified my desire to serve,” Latham said. “Last December I visited Dean at his site in the Dominican and that experience reassured me that serving was the right decision.”
Joshua said he wasn’t so much surprised his brothers followed suit, as he was proud of them.
“They are both far better PC Volunteers than I was—they are so passionate about their work, great at building relationships with locals and other volunteers, and much more willing to endure personal hardship for the good of others,” Joshua said.
Today, Joshua works in a hospital in Minnesota, Latham will go back to the University of South Carolina expecting to finish his degree in 2014, and Dean may turn his experience in the Peace Corps into a career. He hopes to raise money for the foundation to create a living space for the boys when he gets back to the U.S.
And the Peace Corps tradition may continue in feature generations. Joshua met his wife when they volunteered in the Peace Corps together, and his wife was inspired to join the Peace Corps by her aunt and uncle who also met in the Peace Corps.
For more click here: http://stonington.patch.com/articles/peace-corps-becomes-a-family-tradition
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