Peace Corps Volunteers Promote Leadership Through Workshops in West African Country
October 29, 1998Washington, DC., October 29, 1998—Peace Corps volunteer Joseph Loy of Oklahoma City, Okla., and Yvonne White of Ames, Iowa caught the attention of Stang Jow, The Gambia's secretary of education, after the two volunteers organized a leadership workshop at their site in The Gambia this year. Loy teaches math in Brikama, a small town in the southern region of the small country in West Africa, and White works as a teacher trainer about 20 miles away. After noticing a need to boost community leadership and involvement, the volunteers decided to organize a leadership workshop for their students. The workshop successfully attracted 50 students who participated in such topics as group dynamics, qualities of leadership, and teamwork. The volunteers were then asked to present the concept of their workshop to other Peace Corps volunteers in The Gambia. Jow, the secretary of education ,attended, and expressed her interest in having Loy and White create a mobile unit to bring leadership workshops to rural communities throughout the country. "The people of The Gambia are about 90 percent Muslim," Loy explained. "Men and women and not accustomed to working together. The workshop successfully merged both genders towards a mutual understanding and collaborative approach towards leadership." Results of the leadership workshop were evident in two weeks. "Students were able to evaluate their leadership capacity as individuals and apply this to group situations. Cultural differences played a key role in examining group dynamics," Loy said. The volunteer also received positive feedback from the faculty of Gambia College, where the workshop was first held. The faculty would like future workshops to focus on other topics, such as women in leadership. Currently, about 74 Peace Corps volunteers are working in The Gambia, primarily in agriculture, health and education. Overall, more than 6,500 Peace Corps volunteers are working in 80 countries around the world to bring clean water to communities, teach children, protect the environment, help start new small business, and prevent the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.