A Good Fit: A Mexican-American Volunteer Serves in Belize


Natalie Macias (L) with Minister of Education Patrick Faber (M), and Barbara Thummalapally (R), wife of the U.S. ambassador.

Joining the Peace Corps was a good fit for Natalie Macias because she grew up serving others. As a child she volunteered at soup kitchens and went on missions with her church, and during high school she became a Special Olympics buddy.

“I came from a family of educators who were dedicated to service, and giving back was always important while growing up,” Macias said.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from San Francisco State University, Macias was well prepared to serve as a Health Volunteer in a small Belizean town near the Mexican border. Her focus on getting to know and understand her community made her a highly effective Volunteer. Continue reading

Diana Wurzer of Camas, Wash. Selected for Assignment in Ghana

diana-wurzerWASHINGTON, September 19, 2016 – Diana Wurzer, 26, of Camas, Wash., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Ghana in September to begin training. As an agriculture advisor in farm management and agribusiness, Wurzer will work to improve farm productivity, income, and capacity. Her assignment will include coaching her community in agricultural practices and technologies, delivering training on agricultural topics, and conducting field experiments.

“As an adolescent, I romanticized that the Peace Corps was a gateway to an adventure in an exotic land where I would swoop in and change lives,” Wurzer said. “While this desire resonates with who I am and grows stronger as the years pass, I still see it as an adventure and a means to help others, yet it has become so much more.”

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Kendra Van Beek of Puyallup, Wash. Selected for Education Assignment in Ukraine

kendra-van-beekWASHINGTON, September 16, 2016 – Kendra Van Beek, 21, of Puyallup, Wash., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Ukraine in September to begin training as a Secondary Education English Teacher. Van Beek will create resources and develop lesson plans in collaboration with local teachers.

“I was motivated to join the Peace Corps for the opportunity to grow into a global citizen that promotes positive change in this world I participate in,” Van Beek said.

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Beryl Cheal of Seattle Begins Third Peace Corps Assignment at the Age of 81

beryl-chealWASHINGTON, September 16, 2016 – Beryl Cheal, 81, of Seattle, Wash., departed for South Africa in August to begin her third Peace Corps assignment. Cheal previously served in Peace Corps Moldova (2004-2006), and as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in the Philippines (2009-2010), where she applied her experience working in post-disaster settings.

Cheal led an exciting career in Washington state, training early childhood educators and developing her own curricula for intercultural education, based largely on her work with Syrian refugees in Jordan. Her substantial knowledge of early childhood education, as well as her diverse skills working with other cultures in under-resourced environments, have equipped her well to serve as an Pre-School Support Coordinator at the David Rattray Foundation in South Africa.

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Camille Ruiz of Palos Verdes, Calif. Begins Health Assignment in The Gambia

camille-ruizWASHINGTON, September 15, 2016 – Camille Ruiz, 24, of Palos Verdes, Calif., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for The Gambia in October to begin training as a Health Extension Agent. During her service, Ruiz will work to promote  healthy living, educate the community on hygiene and disease awareness, and implement positive changes to create a thriving community.

“My service will be focused immensely around girls’, youth, and women’s empowerment and education,” Ruiz said.

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Nastassia Donoho of Portland Selected for Peace Corps Service in Lesotho

nastassia-donohoWASHINGTON, September 14, 2016 – Nastassia Donoho, 28, of Portland Ore., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Lesotho in September to begin training as a Community Services Advisor. Donoho will work to help reduce the new incident rates of HIV in youth through community health and youth development projects.

“I have wanted to do the Peace Corps since eighth grade when I learned about this amazing program,” Donoho said. “As I have grown older and more in love with the public health field, I have become more attracted to the work the Peace Corps does.”

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Amy De La Fuente of Santa Ana, Calif. Selected for Education Assignment in Ukraine

amy-de-la-fuenteWASHINGTON, September 14, 2016 – Amy De La Fuente, 24, of Santa Ana, Calif., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Ukraine in September to begin training as an Education Volunteer. In Ukraine, De La Fuente will teach English to college students.

“I was attracted into joining the Peace Corps because it provides an unusual experience in which one’s immersion in a foreign country is very strong,” De La Fuente said. “Peace Corps seems headstrong on making mini ambassadors of its Volunteers without the charade of temporarily relief.”

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