Peace Corps Mourns the Loss of Volunteer Tessa Horan

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 1, 2006 Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced today with deep sadness the death of Tessa Horan, a 24-year-old Peace Corps volunteer in Tonga. Tessa died as a result of injuries sustained in a shark attack in Vava\'u.

A Santa Fe, N.M. resident, Tessa left for Tonga in November of 2005 and was sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer in January. She had been at her site for a little less than a month when the tragedy occurred. Tessa was assigned to Peace Corps/Tonga\'s Community Education project, which focuses on the development of English usage, and computer, vocational, and life skills for Tongan students. The project also helps local teachers develop their skills through team teaching.

Tessa Horan
Tessa Horan
"It is clear that Tessa was fulfilling her dreams of serving others through her gift of teaching. Her dreams of strengthening her community in Tonga epitomize the heart and soul of the Peace Corps," said Director Vasquez.

Tessa graduated from The College of Santa Fe in December of 2003. Before joining the Peace Corps, Tessa worked as a kayak instructor, landscape designer and substitute teacher. Most recently, she worked for the Santa Fe Ski Company on the ski patrol.

Peace Corps staff and fellow volunteers who remember Tessa say she was enthusiastic about the opportunity to share her teaching skills with Tongan educators and learn from them in return. In her aspiration statement, Tessa stated, "I am seeking to fall into communities and share the human quest for togetherness and simplicity." Tessa also mentioned one of her favorite quotes from Gandhi, "I want to be the change I wish to see in the world."

Tessa is survived by her mother Kristena Prater, father Kevin Horan, and three siblings Xavier Horan, 23, Devin Burke, 19, and Jasmine Burke, 17.

Daily prayer vigils have been held in the morning and the evening since Tessa\'s tragic death. A memorial to honor Tessa will be held Monday evening (local time) in Tonga. Arrangements for a service in the United States are in progress.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Horan family at this very difficult time," said Director Vasquez.

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