For The Love Of Mankind

The story you are about to read is about a very courageous young lady who saw the need of others more important than her own personal goals. Grace gave up the city life in the US in 2001 to enlist in the US Peace Corps Volunteer Program. She was assigned to the central American country of Panama where she assisted the local artisans in improving their sales techniques. She also gave computer courses to teachers and had them surfing the super highway in as little as three months. Good deeds like the ones you are about to read is what makes the world a better place. Following is Grace's story. 

Grace Campbell was assigned to the Community Economic Development Program in the Republic of Panama.  She began the requisite three-month, in-country training on May 7, 2001.  The Peace Corps Panama training integrates language acquisition, technical skills and cross-cultural adaptation skills in a community setting where the volunteer lives with a Panamanian host family.  Technical skills training includes: basic small business administration, adult learning techniques and group facilitation skills.  After the language interview it was determined that she did not need classes, she took the opportunity to learn more about Panama history, she also served as a translator for her fellow trainees.

Grace officially swore in as a Community Economic Development volunteer on August 27, 2001 and was assigned to the town of La Arena de Chitre, Herrera, located on the Azuero peninsula in southwestern Panama.  La Arena has a population of 10,000, the majority of whom are self-employed as ceramics artisans and farmers.  Grace was assigned to work with the ceramics artisans in an advisory capacity. She initiated a youth group at the public Library.  

Grace established contact with the artisans immediately upon arriving and within three weeks she began to work in an advisory capacity, they started a credit committee and attended a seminar to become part of an export venture. Grace immediately obtained two Peace Corps computers and started a computer course with ten teachers and professor. Within three months the teachers became computer literate and also learned to navigate the Internet.

Graceís teaching extended beyond the classroom, she worked with artisans in their workshops to improve accounting and inventory as well as promote sales although the Panamanian economy in general has suffered a recession.  Grace participated in local artisanís fairs with the artisanís to assess and critique their sales techniques.  She invited outside speakers to give workshops in product design and innovation as well as production techniques.  She invited artisans from La Arena to travel and to participate in seminars and conferences given by the Peace Corps and sales.  She attended association meetings providing support and advice when requested.

Grace dedicated the majority of her time to the artisans.  However, she also taught a 6-month computer course, geared toward local women with limited education. 14 students completed the course, a direct result of the training received.  In addition to small business administration, Grace led self esteem, gender and leadership workshops serving 24 local children and students.  

Grace worked not only locally but nationally as well.  She chaired the Scholarship committee of the Peace Corps Women in Development/Gender Awareness Development (WID/GAD) committee from March 2001 to February 2003.  During this time, she participated in the organization and coordination of two national women and youth conferences; worked with the committee to complete grant proposal for upcoming seminars, she chaired the Scholarship Committee raising funds and providing secondary school scholarships for 18 impoverished girls; and she facilitated workshops in self esteem, leadership and gender for a total of 150 girls, 60 women and 30 men from all provinces.

Grace was involved in this project from the early stages of budgeting and planning to the actual facilitation of the three-day conference.

As chair of the Scholarship Fundraising Committee, Grace helped organized a wine and cheese event attended by Panamanian businesses and embassy workers, raising $1,700.00 for the scholarship fund.  She also played an integral role in other fundraising activities

In all of her projects, Grace drew upon her considerable patience, dedication and leadership skills.  Grace improved her teaching techniques with the schoolís teacher and students. In working with the artisans, she refined her communication and project planning abilities.  And as WID/GAD Chairperson Grace developed valuable skills in proposal writing, event planning and group facilitation.  She proved more than able to adapt to life in Panama and worked well with a wide variety of people with varied educational, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.   

Pursuant to Section 5(f) of the Peace Corps Act, 22 USC 2504(f), as amended, any former Volunteer employed by the United States Government following his/her Peace Corps Volunteer Service is entitled to have any period of satisfactory Peace Corps service credited for purposes of retirement, seniority, reduction in force, leave, and other privileges based on length of Government service.  That service shall not be credited toward completion of the probationary or trial period of any service requirement for career appointment.

This is to certify in accordance with Executive Order 11103 of April 10, 1963, that Grace Mary Campbell served successfully as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Her service ended on July 24,2003  She is therefore eligible to be appointed as a career-conditional employee in the competitive civil service on a non-competitive basis. 

This benefit under the Executive Order extends for a period of one year after termination of Volunteer service, except that the employing agency may extend the period for up to three years for a former Volunteer who enters military service, pursues studies at a recognized institution of higher learning, or engages in other activities that, in the view of the appointing agency, warrant extension of the period.




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