Peace Corps Mourns the Loss of Volunteer Stephanie Chance
"This is a loss for our community. Peace Corps volunteers represent the best America has to offer compassion, generosity of spirit and an enthusiasm for what is possible through cooperation. Stephanies sudden passing is terribly painful for the entire Peace Corps family," said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. "Our thoughts are with her family and friends."
Stephanie, 26, a native of Phoenix, Ariz., arrived in Niger for training in July 2010 and was sworn-in as a municipal development volunteer on Sept. 23, 2010. She had recently arrived at her site in Zinder and was busy getting to know the community to help the local officials better coordinate local government services and collaborative planning.
My aspirations for my community are to assist them in identifying their needs, and helping them imagine the changes they would most benefit from, Stephanie wrote in her July 2010 aspiration statement about her work with Peace Corps.
Before serving with Peace Corps, Stephanie was an experienced certified public accountant. Through Peace Corps service, Stephanie hoped to gain a more global perspective and a better understanding of other cultures. She held a B.S. in business administration and an M.A. in accounting from the University of Arizona.
In recent weeks, Stephanie had made significant progress in learning the local language of Hausa. In September, she completed nearly three months of intensive pre-service training in the village of Hamdallaye, Niger. She was fond of her host family and enjoyed talking with them in her newly acquired Hausa. Stephanie was an active leader among her training group. She organized basketball games and coached local youth in the sport. She was known by Peace Corps training staff for her smile and willingness to help others. She cared about the people of Niger and found ways to contribute, including participating in the annual tree planting to celebrate Nigerien Independence Day and promote conservation.
Currently, there are 75 Peace Corps volunteers in Niger. The first group of volunteers arrived in Niger in 1962. More than 3,000 Americans have worked as Peace Corps volunteers in Niger on a variety of projects focused on health, education, agriculture, natural resource management and community development.
As Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world with 7,671 volunteers serving in 77 host countries. Historically, nearly 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.