President Sirleaf was educated in the U.S. at the University of Wisconsin, my alma mater, and at Harvard, where she got a Masters in Public Administration. She is an economist and political activist. Her roots go back to the founding of Liberia by former American slaves, and even before that. A fascinating story. Her family's been involved in politics for generations. Now, Janice indicated, she is bringing a fresh leadership style to the African continent, democratic, informed, compassionate, tolerant.
Janice was so impressed. "President Sirleaf listened intently and thoughtfully to what we said," Janice remembered. "She really listened!" She is genuinely interested in the work of Peace Corps, and she is a great supporter.
It was a highlight of Janice's return to Liberia with other RPCVs for a service project. She visited her village of Kpain, 130 miles upriver from the capital of Monrovia; met students and old friends; remembered market days at Ganta and the women dressed in lappa's, yards of colorful fabric used for many purposes. She discovered, to her great surprise, that a bookshelf she had had built at her school 30 years ago is still there, through civil wars and other horrors, she noted. What a testimony to her efforts! A young girl, just out of college, a novice feeling her way in a strange land, serious and hard working, left a lasting legacy. I think we all felt closer to Africa with Janice's remembrances.
This was our third class on Peace Corps, and we continued sharing stories. Janice added photos, more memories and artifacts to the discussion she began last week. A great "Show and Tell" session. I call it "From Liberia with love!"
I shared stories about my time in Ukraine, "From Ukraine with love." It's pretty much how PCVs remember the countries in which they served, challenges and all.
|With embroiderer Marfa at her home, |
and a gift she gave me
|At Camp Sosnovy, Lymon, Ukraine, with kids from all|
over Lugansk oblast, and our trusty Russian-English dictionary!
The cutest, most wonderful kids, 9-16. They led the way.
|A lovely lunch at friend Olga's after I broke my arm |
(I fell off my bike).
That's a story in itself.