Peace Corps Deaf Education Volunteers Prepare For Assignments in Kenya; Group Includes Two Who Are Hearing Impaired
September 21, 1999Washington, D.C., September 21, 1999—Five Peace Corps volunteers, including two who are hearing impaired and one whose parents are deaf, will stop in Washington, D.C. this week before departing for their assignments as teachers for the deaf in Kenya, the only Peace Corps program of its kind.
They will be part of a group of about 20 teachers, including math, science and English teachers, who are beginning their two-year adventure overseas.
"Our deaf education volunteers in Kenya are highly respected for the significant contributions they have made in improving education in primary schools for the deaf," said Peace Corps Acting Director Charles Baquet III. "Since the early 1990s, these Peace Corps volunteers have helped their students to believe in themselves and develop essential life skills. They have also assisted in raising community and parental awareness of the needs of deaf children throughout Kenya, and have trained local teachers who can continue their work when the volunteers' service ends."
Deborah Matthys, 29, from Davenport, Iowa, is one of the five volunteers, and is hearing impaired. "I want to motivate people who have special needs to be the best they can be and to broaden their minds on what they want to do. I want to learn about and share with Kenyans their culture, their struggles, and their aspirations."
Volunteers work with deaf children to develop basic educational skills and proficiency in Kenyan Sign Language. They receive three months of training in sign language, Swahili, the Kenyan educational system, and cross-cultural training. After completing training, they are placed in one of 35 schools for the deaf in Kenya.
Kevin Henderson, 26, is also eager to begin his service in Kenya. He graduated from California State University at Northridge with a master's degree in 1999. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of California at Davis in 1996, and studied for one year at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Henderson has worked as a tutor and competed in the World Games for the Deaf in Denmark in 1997. A native of Xenia, Ohio, Henderson has been deaf since he was nine years old.
The other three deaf education volunteers include Peter Crume, 28, of Bay Village, Ohio, whose parents are profoundly deaf; Sarah Kropp, 26, of Boston, Mass.; and Teresa Schriever, 31, of Colorado Springs. Schriever earned her bachelor's degree from Radford University in Virginia. She also studied at Gallaudet University, receiving her master's degree in counseling in 1993, and her master's degree in elementary education in 1997. More than 130 Peace Corps volunteers are currently serving in Kenya. Since the Peace Corps was founded by President John. F. Kennedy in 1961, more than 155,000 Americans have joined, serving in 134 countries. Today, 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 77 countries, working in education, the environment, health and nutrition, business advising, and community development.