Peace Corps' Second Crisis Corps Team Departs for Thailand
May 31, 2005WASHINGTON, D.C., May 31, 2005 Bringing a wealth of experience from occupations that include the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., to a public relations and media account specialist, eight Americans began departing May 25 for Thailand, where they will serve as Crisis Corps volunteers.
The second Crisis Corps Thai team includes volunteers working in the fields of carpentry to youth activities. All will be putting their career skills to use to help the survivors rebuild and focus on the future. Specifically, three carpentry volunteers will work to build furniture for citizens in the displaced persons camps, as well as provide construction training for camp residents and other volunteers. One small business development volunteer will work with tsunami survivors to find markets to sell their goods and handicrafts, as well as teach small business training. A volunteer camp project advisor will help to coordinate volunteer projects through the Tsunami Volunteers organization, working in the displaced persons camps. Two youth activities volunteers will work in a displaced persons camp to provide youth recreational activities in sports, art and crafts, and music to help youth deal with the tragedy and also to provide positive activities to focus their energy. And, in June, a water systems engineer will depart to facilitate and oversee engineers and local authorities as they construct and maintain a water system to bring clean water to residents.
The Crisis Corps volunteers will all leave their jobs, friends and families to put their skills and knowledge to use to help the victims of December's tsunami in South East Asia. Following are a few of the members of the second Crisis Corps Thai team heading for their volunteer assignments.
Mary Brown, Washington, D.C.
Having served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand from 2002 to 2004, Mary Brown will return to help the Thai people as a Crisis Corps volunteer. Brown, 26, of Washington, D.C., will serve as a youth activities volunteer in three displaced persons camps. Her work over the next six months will include assistance with the direction of youth recreational activities, primarily in arts and crafts, music, and sports, as well as planning new youth-oriented programs. Brown will also help train future youth activities coordinators, so the program can be sustained after she completes her service. Brown's previous experience as a teacher trainer in the Peace Corps which included work in the creation of an international learning center will help in bridging communication and cross-cultural issues between camp staff, youth, and volunteers.
Following completion of her first Peace Corps assignment, Brown served as a sales assistant for the School Publishing Division of the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. She received a bachelor's degree in art history and linguistics from the University of Washington, having also completed coursework at The American University of Paris.
Stephen Bydal, Pennsylvania
Having just completed his tour in March 2005 with the Peace Corps in Thailand as a secondary school English teacher, Stephen Bydal will now work as a carpenter with the Crisis Corps. He will be one of three Crisis Corps volunteer carpenters that will construct furniture, and other items need by residents of the displaced persons camps, as they transition to permanent housing. Bydal will also work to find new sources of materials and provide construction training to camp residents.
Bydal, 37, of Warrington, Penn., has 10 years experience writing and developing educational media in collaboration with educators and producers in the United States and Thailand. He has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, renovating apartments for low-income families in Newark, N.J. Bydal received his bachelor's degree in communication from Temple University in Philadelphia.
Mark C. Henley, Washington
Mark Henley, 39, of Seattle, Wash., first served in Thailand from 1989 to 1991 as a Water Resources Engineer volunteer. For his Crisis Corps assignment, Henley will assist in making preparations for the area so they can receive donated water treatment equipment, and he will oversee construction and site preparation for a water system. He will not only coordinate with engineers and local officials, but also help teach local staff the operation and maintenance of the new equipment to ensure the system can operate well into the future. Although he will not leave until mid-June, Henley is part of the second Thai team.
Henley has a history of dedication to helping others and was recognized by the Peace Corps director for exceptional service in 1990. Currently, Henley works for the Washington State Department of Ecology as a Facility Engineer at King Countys regional wastewater treatment facility in Bridgewater. His experience includes conducting comprehensive sewer and wastewater facility plans and engineering reports. Henley received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his master's degree from the University of Washington at Seattle.
Roger O. Parent, Indiana
As one of the first Peace Corps volunteers to serve in Thailand more than 40 years ago, Roger O. Parent, of South Bend, Ind., will return to help the Thai people once again. Parent, 66, will serve in the Crisis Corps as Camp Project Advisor for the organization Tsunami Volunteers, which works to coordinate programs for citizens in the displaced persons camps. Working with the group, Parent will help coordinate volunteer work activities, serve as a liaison between the project leaders and outside organizations, design and implement volunteer organization and training programs, and assist in developing program ideas for camps and villages. Because he previously served in Thailand, Parent will be an instrumental part of the Tsunami Volunteers group by addressing cross-cultural and communication issues between camp staff, residents and volunteers.
Parent originally served from 1961 to 1963, as a carpentry teacher, followed by a position as coordinator of technical training at the University of Hawaii Peace Corps Training Center for volunteers headed to Thailand, Philippines and other Southeast Asia countries. He was elected mayor of South Bend, Ind. in 1980 and served until 1988. Afterward, he returned to the Peace Corps, first as country director of Haiti from 1988 to 1990, then as country director of Bulgaria from 1993 to 1994. Parent also worked as an adjunct lecturer at Indiana University and served as Director of Development at the Priests of Holy Cross. Currently, Parent works as a fundraising consultant and writer. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from Xavier University and a master's degree in education from Notre Dame.
Jennifer Rudolf, Colorado
Jennifer Rudolf, of Boulder, Colo., first served in Thailand from 1995 to 1997, where she taught English as a foreign language in a rural secondary school. In the Crisis Corps' efforts, Rudolf, 35, will now work as a Small Business Development volunteer. Rudolf will work with displaced villagers to develop new ideas and methods of marketing their existing products. She will help to find markets locally and nationally, to distribute the handicrafts made by the tsunami survivors. In addition, she will provide small business development training.
Since completing her first Peace Corps tour in 1997, Rudolf has worked in the field of public relations. Currently, Rudolph is the account manager at the Fresh Ideas Group in Boulder, Colo., where she handles numerous accounts and is responsible for strategic planning and crisis communio., where she handles numerous accounts and is responsible for strategic planning and crisis communication. She also volunteers with P3: People, Plant, Profit - Colorado Businesses for Social Responsibility. Rudolf received her bachelor's degree in American Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Timothy Lee, New York
Timothy Lee, of New York, N.Y., first served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand from 1995 to 1996, where he taught HIV/AIDS prevention and English. In his Crisis Corps efforts, Lee, 46, will return to Thailand as a youth activities volunteer. Working in three internally displaced persons camps, he will help direct and plan new youth recreational activities and programs. His focus will be to help children cope with the stress of the disaster through arts and crafts, music, and sporting activities.
Lee has years of experience as a professional artist, performer, and dancer. He earned a bachelor's degree in visual arts from Albion College in Albion, Mich., as well as conducted graduate studies in art therapy at New York University. Lee speaks English, Thai, Spanish, and German.
More than 550 returned Peace Corps volunteers have taken the opportunity to use their invaluable skills and experience to address ongoing community needs in over 30 different countries since Crisis Corps' inception in 1996. Crisis Corps volunteers work on short term projects, utilizing the skills they learned as Peace Corps volunteers and in post service careers. To find out more about the Peace Corps' Crisis Corps program, please visit the Crisis Corps page.
Since 1961, more than 178,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, 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 27-month commitment.