Peace Corps

 

Brett and Laura Holt in the Peace Corps (Armenia)

We served with Peace Corps Armenia from June 3, 2004 through September 29, 2005. It was a wonderful, enlightening, and fulfilling experience that we will never forget, and will measure all future endeavors against. Though our time was cut short due to a medical injury, we are still working to help the people of Armenia.

This section of the website focuses on our experience in Armenia. We want to educate you about our experience, the country of Armenia and Peace Corps. We have encountered many people in the United States who are not aware of the Peace Corps or think that it no longer exists. We are well aware that the Peace Corps is still serving the needs of developing countries in the world.

We left on June 3, 2004 and flew from San Jose, CA to Philadelphia, PA where we met the rest of our group. Our group was called A-12 because we were the twelfth group from Peace Corps to go to Armenia. There were originally 52 volunteers in the group. While in Philadelphia we went through some pre-training and got to know the other volunteers.

On June 7 we flew from New York City, NY to Yerevan, Armenia, with a half-day layover in Vienna, Austria. Once we landed in Armenia we were greeted by Peace Corps Armenia staff and volunteers. We had donuts and coffee at the historic Zvarnots site and then driven to the Town of Dilijan for training. We spent 12 weeks in training being educated on security and safety issues, cultural awareness, Armenian language skills (the most intensive portion of our training) and other critical issues. During this time we lived with a host family in the village of Golovino.

After our training period, we were sworn in as official Peace Corps Volunteers and sent to Alaverdi where we were to live and work for the duration of our two year service. The area was very mountainous and filled with canyons and plateaus. The views were spectacular but the natural environment was plagued with environmental destruction. Most Armenians were very hospitable towards us, especially after we would speak Armenian to them. We’d usually stop talking to the ones who didn’t warm up to our broken Armenian since they found it difficult to work with us. Overall, we had a very positive experience living in Armenia and look forward to returning again.

Why did we join the Peace Corps?

From the world protests against America invading Iraq in 2003 to the chaos and failed progress that the Bush Administration faced in establishing a democracy in Iraq, the world wasn’t viewing America in a very positive light. We felt that America had many enriching ideas to offer the world and the Peace Corps was one of them. We viewed the Peace Corps as an opportunity for us show that America is a great country, and that not only do we want to teach others, but we want to learn from them in a peaceful manner.

We also found the opportunity to travel in a new region of the world was very appealing. We loved to travel and this would be a very unique way to see a new part of the world. The idea of living in a community in a new country that we were not familiar with was very appealing. The opportunities to exchange ideas and make lasting relations with new faces we were unfamiliar was very exciting to us.

Lastly, we were young, didn’t have a mortgage, and no children, so why not take advantage of this opportunity while we could. We both looked at joining the Peace Corps while we were in college but it didn’t fit our life at that time. 2004 was our time!

What did Laura do while serving in the Peace Corps?
Some information provided by Peace Corps “Your Assignment” brochure.

Laura was a Primary Education Teacher Trainer/English Educator Volunteer. She was a part of the TEFL program (est. 1992) that works in improving the English teaching capacity of the Armenian education system. Armenians value education as their number one priority. Over 90% of the population are literate (we found this number to not be true later in our service). The idea is that if Armenians can develop English speaking, reading, and writing skills then they can increase opportunities to compete in the world market as well as become leaders within their communities.

The primary project that Laura worked included but was not limited to the following:

  • Developed and implemented language lessons with an emphasis on reading, writing, listening, and speaking to improve English language communication skills
  • Coordinated letter writing between Armenian English and American teachers through the World Wise Schools Program to encourage cultural exchange
  • Helped students to develop critical-thinking skills, including analysis, problem solving, and decision-making
  • Attended and participated in local teacher association meetings and events
  • Team-taught with an Armenian English teacher on a daily/weekly basis
  • Invited English speakers to coffee, movies, or other informal activities that encourage them to speak English
  • Worked with teachers to increase their English language skills

Besides her primary project that she was assigned to do, secondary projects were established after we arrived in our community. Read the Journal entries to learn about these projects.

What did Brett do while serving in the Peace Corps?
Some information provided by Peace Corps “Your Assignment” brochure.

Brett was involved in the Environmental Education program. The Peace Corps Environmental Education project was initiated in 2003 in cooperation with the Ministry of Nature Protection in order to support the Armenian National Environmental Action Plan, which calls for environmental education campaigns throughout Armenia.

The purpose of the Environmental Education project is to assist Armenians in working individually and collectively to raise awareness of local, regional, and national issues that affect both environmental and human health in Armenia. This is accomplished by strengthening and/or establishing the capacity of educational institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and governmental agencies to solve current problems and to prevent future ones.

Brett’s primary project included but was not limited to the following:

  • Designed and implemented environmental education programs and workshops for schools, teacher training centers, and community centers
  • Assisted science teachers in strengthening environmental content in classes
  • Developed environmental curriculum and educational resources
  • Established area resource centers focusing on environmental education and health issues
  • Developed and implemented informal educational opportunities, including camps and after-school clubs
  • Worked with local and regional environmental authorities to assess the current state of the environment in Armenia

Besides his primary project that he was assigned to do, secondary projects were established after we arrived in our community. Read the Journal entries to learn about these projects.

Further Information (Coming Soon)

  • ›› Care Package Ideas
  • ›› Natural Environment
  • ›› TEFL English Activities
  • ›› SJ Mercury News article about our PC Experience
  • ›› Armenian Newspaper article about our PC Experience, Page 6 (PDF)

6 thoughts on “Peace Corps

  1. Barev dzez,yes Flor em. 
       My husband and I are slated to leave next month for Armenia!  We will be in A-20’s.  We are from Anchorage, Alaska, but also spend half the year in South GA, so of course we pass through Seatac lots!!  We are enjoying your blog, and hope to ask you information as we get more aquainted with the country. 

    1. Hi Flor, 
      Thanks for visiting the site. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about our service or serving as a couple. I know you’re heading out soon but if you are in the area and want to meet up let us know. Have a great time in Armenia!

  2. Hi,  I am looking for Leslie Danai Long.  I found out that she was in Armenia 2004-2006 with the Peace Corps. I am hoping you were there with her and might help me find her.  She was my college roomate in 1980-1981.. in Denver, Colorado. l would like to reconnect.  Do you know her?  If so, can you give her my email address? 

    1. Hi Kimberly….thanks for the notification. I passed on your message and email address to Danai. It’s been a couple a years since we connected with her so I’m hoping the email address I have is still checked. 

      1. Hi, I’ve been looking for Danai as well and would love to have you forward a message to her from me. I’m Neil Sawyer. I knew Danai from before her college years and I’ve been really proud to see the path her life has taken.

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