Profile: Alexandra Stanat
Peace Corps Volunteers never know where the experience will take them. In the case of agriculture Volunteer Alexandra Stanat, a college course in beekeeping opened the door for a beekeeping opportunity in Paraguay.
"When I signed up for the course, I never could have imagined where it would lead. My friends and family kind of laughed at me for taking it. I never thought I'd use it. And I certainly never thought it'd have such a big impact on my life, let alone the lives of some Paraguayan women."
Alexandra built on her small beekeeping background during pre-service training. "We'd spend half the day training with the bees and half the day in language training."
"Beekeeping is such a valuable skill for the women to learn in Paraguay, because the people love honey. It's a delicacy and it sells for a high price. Plus, it's considered a natural remedy for many things."
When she arrived on site she helped a women's group expand their own apiary. They built the hives, packaged, and marketed their own honey.
"The women all voted and decided to call it 'The Golden Bee.' Then we found a bunch of wine bottles, sterilized them, bought some corks, designed a label, and took it into town and found some people who were willing to sell it in their stores. It was an unbelievable experience to see it all happen."
It also afforded the women a chance to bring income into their household in a way that made a significant difference to their families' quality of life. That is part of what was most rewarding for Alexandra.
"I think the best part of the Peace Corps is the commitment to helping people help themselves. To promoting lasting changes." And the apiary she helped start continues to make a difference in the lives of the women involved, even now, after she's returned home from Paraguay.
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