Despite conflict in the Middle East and political and other unrest elsewhere, recruitment efforts for the Peace Corps are going quite well, the corps' Denver area manager said Tuesday in Salt Lake City.
Barbara Moritzky, who beginning in 1984 spent four years with her husband, Rand, serving in the corps in Tunisia, said six Utahns have been nominated for Peace Corps service since Oct. 1."Recruiting is going quite well despite world events. The Denver office recruits about 235 people every year to go overseas. We are one of the stronger offices in the nation. Colorado ranks first in our area for recruitments; Utah is second. Thirty-five people were recruited from Utah during 1990, about 22 fewer than in 1989," Moritzky said in an interview.
Most of the Utah volunteers come from the University of Utah, but students from other universities also have served. About 25 percent of the total number recruited are from the community. Thirty-nine of the approximately 6,200 volunteers now in 73 countries are from Utah.
The corps, which was organized 30 years ago March 1, has 130,000 returned volunteers, many of whom continue to share their experiences with friends and relatives. While overseas, volunteers perform a variety of tasks, ranging from teaching English and developing textbooks to working in agricultural and water and health education programs.
The Peace Corps' greatest needs, Moritzky said, are for people with backgrounds or training in science and math, forestry, special education and agriculture. Czechoslovakia, Hungry, Poland and Bulgaria have requested English teachers and individuals with small-business experience. Romania has asked for volunteers with training or experience in special education to work with children in orphanages.
Most Peace Corps assignments are for two years and begin after successful completion of training. For many assignments a language other than English is required. Previous knowledge of another language can be very helpful but is not always required. A living allowance in the local currency is issued to cover housing, food, essentials and a little spending money. When their service is completed, volunteers receive a $200 readjustment allowance for every month served.
After working with handicapped children and adults in the Tunisian capital of Tunis for two years, Moritzky traveled as an employee for the Peace Corps for two years throughout the Arab country, setting up Peace Corps volunteer sites.
She said she and her husband greatly enjoyed their service in Tunisia, a country about the size of Georgia with a population of about 6 million.
"I felt the culture. I breathed it and I wanted to understand it. I am concerned about my friends in Tunisia." It is hard to predict what is going to happen there and elsewhere, she said, praising the Tunisians for their warm hospitality.
Until two weeks ago the Peace Corps had a total of 200 volunteers in Tunisia and two other Arab countries, Yemen and Morocco.
"We pulled them out because of the conflict in the Middle East. We hope to put them back when the area is stabilized. The Peace Corps hasn't had volunteers in Iraq for many years," she said.
Moritzky, who has degrees in sociology and social work, said she was amazed how Peace Corps volunteers can learn to live with so much less than what they've been been accustomed to at home.
"Your life becomes so much simpler and less complex. The hardest thing for me was not adjusting to that culture but it was coming back and readjusting to American culture. Our society and how we live is so hectic, so busy. We don't have the luxury of visiting our neighbors for a whole afternoon and just talking and sharing a meal. I did that frequently in Tunisia. I left that country having made many new friends."