CHAPTER 1 PEACE CORPS ASSIGNMENT

Marina was an adventuresome young woman and during her last semester in college responded to a newspaper advertisement about the Peace Corps. The ad and what she had heard about the Peace Corps attracted her. She wanted to do something she felt was worthwhile for a change. She was tired of going to school and studying. A reply to her response came in the mail one month before graduating from college along with an application and a list of presently available postings. The list included Lima Peru. Marina had always been interested in middle and southern American history and had read many books on the Aztecs and Incas and had been horrified by what the Conquistadors had done to those civilizations. She had longed to take a train ride up and over the Andes after seeing a documentary movie of such a trip. The scenery was breath taking. She had also read the archeological account of Brigham Young from Salt Lake City who had finally discovered Machu Picu and she hoped to visit it one day.

So, Marina applied for the assignment in Lima, Peru. Within a month she received notification in the mail of her acceptance to the posting in Lima, Peru for one year and to report to their local office in Detroit, Michigan, where Marina was living with her mother, the week after graduation for indoctrination and information briefings. She was ecstatic. She immediately drove her mother’s car to the address of the Peace Corps office to make sure she wouldn’t be late on the report date. Marina went into the office on the report date full of enthusiasm. At the end of the briefings and administrative processing, Marina received her airline tickets and contact information in Lima.

Marina flew off on her new adventure, her posting to Lima Peru, and her first Peace Corps assignment. She was very excited and fully expected a fantastic adventure. With such a positive attitude, it wasn’t surprising that she found the life there fascinating. She discovered that the Llamas were very intelligent creatures and well suited to their mountain habitat. She saw local people dying the Llama wool in vivid colors and weaving beautifully patterned and colorful clothing to brighten up their drab existence. She found most of the local people to be friendly and they appeared happy. She found the food tolerable, but sanitation somewhere between inadequate and non-existent. Therefore, Marina wasn’t surprised at the high rate of illness among the local people and even more so with the Peace Corps volunteers. Marina learned from another Peace Corps worker who had been there for some time to eat a half dozen seeds from the papaya fruit twice a day to stop the almost constant dysentery. She hated the taste of the seeds but they were effective. She also learned to personally boil all water before drinking, to only eat fresh fruits and vegetables that she herself had pealed, cleaned and cooked, and to thoroughly cook all meats. Doing these things helped her reduce her incidence rate with the dysentery.

The assignment in Peru educated Marina about the plight of the common man and the advantages of the highly socialized systems. She worked patiently giving what limited medical aid she could to the poor people to ease their pain and discomfort. She saw the disparity between the rich people living with all the modern conveniences, luxuries, proper healthy foods, good sanitation and expensive medicines and the poor, who were just existing and producing more children to work for the rich. She also noticed that the poor didn’t complain. Many women and children died in childbirth and most of them didn’t live long anyway. She was learning that quiet acceptance of life is not only the most practical alternative, but is often the only alternative to screaming out in a mad rage and being totally ignored anyway.

Marina wanted to travel a lot in Peru to see the historic sites, but the Peace Corps was adamant that she had to live at the same economic level as the local workers in the clinic to which she was assigned. However, she did get to see Machu Picu one time but that was the extent of her travel. She had money to spend of her own but faced dismissal if caught augmenting her local salary with her own money. A fellow Peace Corps Volunteer had augmented his local salary when he had gone off for a month sight seeing many of the historic cities. The Peace Corps supervisor had visited, found him gone without permission, discovered what he was doing and when the fellow returned, dismissed him from the Peace Corps program and sent him back to the US. The Peace Corps had that rule about the money because they had learned that you couldn’t effectively communicate and work with local people when there is too much of an economic difference in statures. Marina didn’t want a blemish on her work record with the Peace Corps so she adhered to the rules.

Marina dutifully wrote her mother every week describing her activities and what she saw in great detail. And, her mother wrote back every week. The letters were Marina’s lifelines to the other reality. Lima, Peru was just a temporary reality for her. Four months before the end of the assignment, Marina received a newspaper ad from her mother about a medical clinic in the Republic of the Marshall Islands needing American nurses and administrative staff. Marina was excited when she read the ad. Just the thought of being able to live back down at sea level and in a tropical climate was thrilling seemed like a heavenly assignment after the dry and dusty cold thin air with little oxygen in Lima Peru. Oh, she had enjoyed the assignment in Peru even though she hadn’t been able to travel and see what she wanted. But now, she had the opportunity for another adventure in another part of this wonderful planet.

While in Peru, she received a few letters from Bill, a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer she’d met in the Peace Corps classes in Detroit. He got his choice of a posting to Ghana in Africa. He wrote he wasn’t happy living and working in Africa, had made a bad choice, and couldn’t

wait to leave there. From Bill's letters, Africa seemed to be an even less glamorous assignment than Lima Peru. So, Marina applied for the job in the Marshall Islands and waited. She was anxious to leave Peru. The assignment had been interesting and educational but she was starting to feel restless and knew she had to move on.

Marina received another letter from Bill just after applying for the job in the Marshall Islands; this time he wrote saying he was quitting the Peace Corps. He wrote that he had just received notice of acceptance with a two-year contract with the Marshallese Government as Hospital Administrator in their clinic on Ebeye. He wrote that he had been getting weary of Ghana and needed a change of work place. He wrote that he had been sending out resumes all over the world to find a job. The job in the Marshall Islands was an advancement from the male nurse positions he had held before and during the Peace Corps assignment. The climate in the Marshall Islands was also far superior to that of his Peace Corps assignment in Ghana. He preferred administrative duties to hands-on with seriously ill or complaining patients. Here was an opportunity to live on a Pacific island. He said he had been in seventh heaven ever since he received the notice that he had been selected for the job on Ebeye Island, Kwajalein Atoll, and Republic of the Marshall Islands. He wrote to Marina of visions of fishing from the shore early in the morning and early in the evening for the tasty lagoon fish he had heard so much about. He could hardly wait to get on the plane to leave Africa and to get to the Marshall Islands. He wrote that he would be in the Marshall Islands by mid-August.

Marina was delighted and wrote him that she also had applied for a job in the Marshall Islands and that maybe they could get together sometime after she got there. She wrote that she was waiting for a response and would write him when she knew for sure she had the job there. Six weeks later, Marina received an acknowledgment letter from the Marshall Islands with a two-year contract to sign and return, a check for travel expenses, and instructions on how to get to Ebeye Island, Kwajalein Atoll, and Republic of the Marshall Islands. Marina

immediately wrote Bill another letter telling him that she had gotten the job. That it was at the same place as his job. And the date she would be arriving there. She was glad that there would be someone there she knew and looked forward to seeing Bill again anyway.

In the early summer of 1986 at the same time as Marina applied for and was accepted by the Marshallese Government for the position on Ebeye as assistant hospital administrator, Marina’s ailing grandmother in Vladivostok wrote to her daughter Sonja in Michigan and pleaded for her to send her only granddaughter, Marina, to her so that she could see her just one time before she died. Who could deny an old woman her last wish? Marina was due home from Lima soon and her mother decided to not write to Marina and to wait until she got home to ask her to go visit her grandmother.

Marina flew home to Detroit for a short visit. Upon arrival, her mother showed her the letter from her grandmother and said, “Please take a short trip and visit your grandmother before flying to the Marshall Islands. “ Marina thought this was great. A brief trip to Russia wasn’t a problem as she had two months before she was scheduled to report to work in the Marshall Islands and it would just shorten her vacation in the US. It wasn’t a problem. Anyway, here was another adventure to add to the collection she was starting. She didn’t know anyone else of her classmates or Peace Corps Volunteers who had visited Russia. She already had the adventures of Peru and visiting Machu Picu in her new collection of adventures and was ready to add more. She was thrilled.

Marina’s mother was glad to have her at home but was also a bit apprehensive about her leaving again so soon for another overseas job. The trip to visit her grandmother was ok because it was of short duration. The long trips away bothered her. Her mother just wanted to keep Marina near. Marina's mother wasn’t as old as Bill's mother so Marina wasn’t worried about her dying while she was overseas. But, still, her mother preferred having her live

nearby. Her father had died a few years earlier in an industrial accident in the local Dearborn Ford Factory.

After a week at home visiting old friends, shopping, and gorging herself on the unhealthy, rich, American fast foods and tasty freshly grated potato pancakes, a specialty of the local Russian restaurants, she was her normal healthy self again with a certain pleasant roundness to her cheeks and a bit more flesh on her arms and legs. The leanness she had shrunk to while in Peru was gone. She intentionally fattened up a bit. She disliked being too thin as much as being fat. But, she also didn’t like bones sticking out all over. She went to a tailor for nurse’s uniforms and to Wal-Mart shopping for a new wardrobe for the trip to visit grandmother and for the new overseas assignment. She bought two new nylon clothes travel bags to take her authorized weight limit with her on the plane and mailed three boxes of clothes and tennis shoes to herself on Ebeye. The nylon bags weighed far less than the hard shell Samsonite suitcases she had used on her Peru trip thereby giving her more weight for clothing. She suspected that like in Lima, the clothing selection for her would be extremely limited and felt it best to go well prepared. For more preview go to http://lulu.com/tjmcgoldrick7 my storefront where you can also buy as paperback or as e-book at very reasonable prices.