Love and Marriage in the Peace Corps
February 14, 2003WASHINGTON, D.C., February 14, 2003—Today, the Peace Corps salutes all those who serve with their spouses as volunteers. Currently, 265 couples serve around the world as Peace Corps volunteers, the equivalent of nine percent of all volunteers. Couples serve in many different fields—some work together on the same project or have very different projects.
One example is David Blaise and Jennifer Fitzgerald, who serve side by side in municipal development in Honduras. In December 2002, the couple and their adopted community celebrated the completion of a landmark development plan. The plan defines goals and objectives to guide the city’s sustainable development. It will also help secure funding from donor institutions and the Honduran government.
|Jim and Heidi Wilton during their service in Armenia.|
According to Blaise, “Serving as a married couple in Peace Corps has made our experience here much richer and has also strengthened our relationship. It has also allowed us to take on more ambitious projects because we can collaborate in our work.”
Other couples, who serve in different projects, contribute to one community and share the joys of seeing their village or neighborhood transformed by their service. One example is Joyce and Mervyn Alphonso in Guyana. Joyce, a health volunteer, serves in a hospital, while her husband, Mervyn, teaches at a nearby school. After successful careers in the United States, the Alphonso's decided to return to Guyana as Peace Corps volunteers. The Alphonso’s commitment to service in Guyana is so great that when first nominated to the Peace Corps, they waited for over a year until positions in Guyana became available.
One couple that served together recently is Heidi and Jim Wilton. They joined the Peace Corps after five years of marriage, serving in Armenia. For Heidi and Jim Wilton, it was a unique opportunity to share the skills they had developed in the United States with the people of Armenia. Jim served as a community development volunteer and helped to open a computer and language-training center. Heidi concentrated on youth by working with teachers to develop new teaching methodologies. Being a married couple in the Peace Corps had its advantages. Heidi and Jim were able to rely on one another for support and share in their mutual successes. "We spent more time communicating with one another than we ever had before. We also enjoyed working together on activities, like coaching the girls' soccer team and taking kids on environmental hikes."
Since 1961, more than 168,000 volunteers, including 28,000 married volunteers, have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.
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