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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Overseas Phone Call from South Africa (Kristi)

Peace Corps Volunteer Kristi White Talks With Kingsland Elementary School

Once a year, a few Peace Corps volunteers get to talk by telephone with U.S. classrooms they've been communicating with. We've recorded some of those conversations. Today, Kingsland Elementary School in Kingsland, Georgia, speaks to Kristi, a Peace Corps volunteer currently serving in South Africa.

Ron Tschetter
Hi, I'm Ron Tschetter, Director of the Peace Corps. For more than 45 years the Peace Corps has helped communities around the world. Volunteer Voices is a collection of audio stories from just a few of the more than 182,000 volunteers who have served since 1961. For more information on the Peace Corps, go to peacecorps.gov.
Class
Hi!
Kristi
Hello!
Student
I'm Jack, and my question is what do you do in the Peace Corps?
Kristi
I work with an organization called Child Welfare and they're a social work organization and they help kids that have been abused, or neglected, or they're having problems in their family. So, what I do is, I'm helping them to start programs that deal with HIV and AIDS, because that's my specialty. So we're helping them put in programs for kids that are effected by HIV/AIDS.
Student
What do you do for fun in South Africa?
Kristi
What do I do for fun? Well I'm very lucky. I live in a place called Mpumalanga, which is the province I live in—the state I live in—and this province is the best province in all of South Africa because we have lots and lots of opportunities. It's beautiful, beautiful nature. I get to go on lots of hikes, which I love to do—to waterfalls and beautiful outlooks. I do that a lot because I live near those. I like to spend time with my friends and I've been learning a lot of different crafts here, like, they do a lot of beading for bracelets and different jewelry and just different skills I'm trying to learn from the people here. So that's what I do for fun. And I read a lot because I don't have a TV.
Student
Do the kids have homework?
Kristi
Kids have homework here? Yes, they get lots of homework. They have big exams they have to take here because it's the English system. Every year they have huge exams so that they can go on to the next school year. So they have to do a lot of studying at home and then they do homework as well. They work hard here.
Teacher
I really believe in what Peace Corps does. I think it's a great mission to bring skills from other places into places that need skills. It's a great thing to show the world that America can be peaceful and that America has great people that live there and want to help the rest of the world. So I am a big proponent of Peace Corps and that I think every child should look into it, but also you know it's not for everyone. It's a hard road, it's a hole and you have to be really motivated to know in yourself that this is the right decision to make. So if you think this is the right decision for you, and you really have a passion to go somewhere else and help people then I think, yes, definitely you should come.
Student
What's famous down there where you're at?
Kristi
Yeah, definitely. There's places here that are very famous. Where I live, there's Kruger Park which is the biggest game park in the world. And it has all the African animals you know—lions, and leopards, and cheetahs, and elephants. It's very close to me; I can be there in 15 minutes if I want to go. In Cape Town, there's Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. They also have Table Mountain which is a UNESCO sight because it's a big huge, flat mountain that looks like a table. Johannesburg is a big city and they have towers, and, you know, all that stuff, all the TV and everything from South Africa comes from Jo'burg. So close to those famous places.
Teacher
The cost of living. Is it about the same?
Kristi
It depends how you live. Like I said, there's a very big discrepancy between the wealthy and the poor. The poor people can live off very, very little and the rich people live very similarly to us. You know, drive the same kind of cars, have the same kind of houses, and all that stuff, so it just depends where you are on that spectrum.
Student
What kind of cars do ya'll have down there?
Kristi
We have pretty much anything you can think of. We have SUVs, we have Porsches, we have Mini Coopers, Toyotas, everything. So it's pretty similar to the United States. The only difference is its mostly European cars. There's a lot of like BMWs, and Mercedes, and Volkswagens here because they're cheaper here.
Student
It depends on where you live, if you have money. Then the house is very similar to the houses like ours at home. Poor people, very poor people, live in shacks. That they make out of scrap wood, and signs, and things like that. The government has built a lot of houses that are just one room, and they are made out of cement blocks, and they are very small. There are some traditional houses which are called rondavels which are round houses that have thatched roofs on them—those are really cool.
Teacher
If you had advice for these kids over here, what would it be? What you want them to take back from this opportunity to talk to you?
Kristi
My best advice is just to be aware that it's a big world out there and that there is a lot of people that don't have what we have. We're very lucky to be Americans and to grow up the way we grow up. So, just to be aware that not everyone has those opportunities and that we are lucky people. That luck, that we should give back some of that. That's what I would say.
Teacher
Thank you.
Kristi
Thank you for this opportunity.
Class
Bye!
Kristi
Bye, guys!
Close
Thanks for listening. Are you in a classroom? Do you want stories written just for your class? Enroll in the Correspondence Match Program in Coverdell World Wise Schools. We can connect your class with a Peace Corps volunteer serving in any region of the world. For enrollment and program information visit us online at www.peacecorps.gov/wws/correspond.

About the Author

Kristi White

Kristi White served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa from 2005-2007.