Wednesday, August 14, 2013

American Peace Corps Volunteer to Azerbaijan and the Philippines - Elaine Sweet

American Peace Corps Volunteer - Elaine Sweet

Peace Corps Volunteers Elaine Sweet (right) with Susan Brooks (left)

Dear Readers,
Yesterday's blog entry featured Peace Corps Volunteer Susan Brooks from Cleveland Ohio; today, Elaine Sweet from New York is featured. Both of them are now teachers in Bago, Negros, Philippines. Elaine had served as a volunteer in Azerbaijan -- one of the few people I know who's served in the 'Stans.

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, Susan and Elaine visited me in Cebu City, Philippines and we had an incredible time sightseeing, exploring Cebu, and enjoying the small fiesta in Cebu's historic district. 

What impressed me was their genuine desire to serve their Bago community. Their love for their host families, fellow teachers, as well as students was also apparent.

Enjoy this and yesterday's blog entry!


Hello Cecilia,
Thank you again for your gracious hospitality.  The spirit of Parian and the people initiating and perpetuating it is something that Sue and I will remember.   As we keep saying, “WOW, WHAT A WEEKEND!”
I am probably giving you more information than you wanted.  It is flattering to be asked.  Please edit it however it makes sense. 

1. What is your full name?
1.       My name is actually GRACE “ELAINE” SWEET.

2.  Before Bago, where did you live?
 I am from LeRoy, New York before I came to the Philippines.

3. What work did you do before Bago?
Before the Peace Corps, I had many roles: teacher, real estate broker, financial services representative, independent business person, mother, grandmother. I have been a teacher throughout all of those years and professions.

4. What prompted you to join the Peace Corps?
I joined the Peace Corps to complete some of my life goals.

 5. How long have you been a PCV?
 I joined in the 1960s, but traumatic events happened at that time, and then life got in the way, as I got married and raised a family. I am striving to complete those life goals. I rejoined the Peace Corps in 2009 and served in Azerbaijan as a high school English teacher for one year.

Then family needs arose and I returned to New York State to be a grandmother and high school teacher for two more years. 

I returned to the Peace Corps in 2012 to be a teacher in the Philippines. I arrived in the Philippines on July 7, 2012, received training in language and culture in Bataan, and I arrived in Bago City on September 20, 2012.

6. What work have you done as a PCV?
 Work in the US Peace Corps is dependent upon the needs of the host school or agency.
 When I was a volunteer in Azerbaijan I worked as a High School English teacher and also did some development work.  I received a Peace Corps Partnership Grant to provide my school with internet capability.  I also received a US Embassy environmental Grant for plastic collection and recycling.
In the Philippines I am an English teacher at Bago City College.  I serve on the VAC (Volunteer Action Committee) committee where I am a liaison between the Education volunteers and the Peace Corps. I teach First Year Students a brief refresher course in vocabulary building and reading strategy skills with my co-teacher. I am working on a development project for our library to expand library space, relocate the e-library and create an Instructional Media Center.
In February, Bago City College students participated in an International Creative Writing Competition sponsored by the United States Peace Corps.  Four entries were submitted to the International Judging in Kiev, Ukraine.  There were three winners.  Bago City College First Year college entry took 2nd place  in the International competition and BOTH Second and Third year entries took 1ST PLACE.
We are planning to have a Creative Writing Work shop in in October to encourage more students to discover and develop their talents.
In September the college will sponsor a reading program called BKP (Bagong Kulturang Pinoy). 

Approximately 50 Education students and teachers from the local barangay schools will receive special training to help young students excel in reading.  BKP  has donated 800 to 1000 books for the program so that Bago students can learn the love of reading.

8. Where have you lived as a PCV? (That is have you been with host families or are you renting your own apartment?)
 I lived with a host family for the first 4 months in Bago.  Now I rent an apartment and shop at the local market.
9.  Describe a typical day as a volunteer.
 My typical day depends upon the college school calendar.  During Summer Break I worked on my projects.  Now I will start teaching again.  Each day is different.  This semester I will work with my counterpart teacher to prepare lessons to co-teach to the 11 sections of First Year College students.
10. What do you like most as a volunteer?
 I love working with the students and enjoy interacting with fellow teachers.
11.  What do you dislike most as a volunteer?
 I dislike the red tape and burocracy one must go through to accomplish goals.
12. What would you change if you could as a volunteer?
Bago City College strives to provide an affordable education for students.  There are many hard working teachers. 

13. What would you want to say about your school, students, host families, Bago, the Philippines?
My host family nurtured me and introduced me to the community and culture.  I look on them as dear friends. 
I call Bago City “my home.”
It is truly “more fun in the Philippines”.

14. When does your assignment to Bago end?
My assignment ends September 20, 2014.

15. What can you say about your PCV experience so far?
I think living in another culture has helped me learn more about myself and has also taught me to be more tolerant of others’ ideas.

16. What are your plans for the future - specifically after your finish your stint?
 My plans are to return to my family in New York after this assignment.  But I am open to searching for another adventure where I can be of service to others.

Grace Elaine Sweet
June 27, 2013

The photos show Elaine Sweet with Susan Brooks, and there's one with me (the second from the top), and with the other people in Cebu during the fiesta.

Read Also:
Creative Writing Workshop, Sponsored by US Peace Corps & Bago City College
Interview of Susan Brooks
Creative Wrting Workshop in Bago - Organized by Susan Brooks 
Life in Parian Now 
Historic Parian, Cebu - Updates 
Walking Tour of Old Cebu  
Reflections on Cebu - part 1
Pictures of Historic Cebu, Philippines - Part 1 
Pictures of Historic Cebu, - Part 2  
Pictures of Historic Cebu - Part 3

And I have more writeups about Cebu - Search Cebu, or Old Cebu, or Historic Cebu in the upper left section of the blog.
tags: Elaine Sweet, Susan Brooks, Peace Corps, PCV, American Peace Corps Volunteer, Philippines, Negros Occidental, Bago, education, Ramon Torres school, Visayas, teachers

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