By Gavin Elliott – Contributing Writer
UMF recently hosted a Peace Corps panel that featured current, prospective and past members of the organization discussing their goals to help people in need, their uncertain expectations and how the program helped them.
The event kicked off with a video from 2016 UMF graduate Elizabeth Ferry, who is currently stationed in Tanzania. The audience of 40-some-odd people watched as Ferry walked around her modest home.
“Why the Peace Corps? It wasn’t the plan,” Ferry pondered. “I went to the same panel you are at now, heard the people speak, was pretty inspired, and thought, why not pursue education and service at the same time and why not do it abroad?”
Reflecting on her 17 months of service with a big smile painted across her face, Ferry stated that “[joining] has been the best decision I’ve ever made…every day [the secondary school students] teach me more than I teach them.”
Afterwards, 2016 graduate Katy Schrader talked about her first year in Mozambique as a Peace Corps volunteer via video. She discussed her previous expectations of possibly living in a small village without running water and electricity and her surprise when she got placed in a “three bedroom house with an indoor bathroom, running water, and energy.”
Schrader also talked about her role as a teacher of future primary school teachers in Mozambique. “I spend lots of time watching my kids student teach,” said Schrader. “I know that my future students are changing education in Mozambique. It has been really amazing to watch the transformation of how they first started student teaching to how I have taught them.”
Katy Schrader with all the second year students from the teachers training college on their last day of class. Next year the student teach for a whole year.
Photo Courtesy of Katy Schrader.
People then got to hear from two UMF seniors; Danny Marshall, who will be departing to Mongolia in May to co-teach English and Lindsay Gorman, who is hoping to travel to Ghana to teach special education.
Together, they discussed the long process of applying for the Peace Corps and suggested that anyone seriously interested should apply the summer before their senior year.
Members who had already served then began to speak of their expectations versus the reality. Linda Beck, a UMF professor in Political Science said, “when I went in, I envisioned all of the Senegalese I would get to know, and I made wonderful friends, but what I hadn’t anticipated was what incredible fellow Americans I would meet while in Senegal…one of which became my husband.”
Grinning, President Kathryn Foster remembered that she feared she would be served “goat eyeballs by a host family and expected to eat them” when deployed in Swaziland.
The crowd laughed at her recollection. Although Foster never was served goat eyeballs, she did learn a great deal about “how to be and live and be successful in a different culture.”
The previous Peace Corps’ members also discussed how much they did outside their designated area of work. Jo Josephson, one of the Peace Corps’ first members to travel to Ghana in 1963, was appointed to teach biology but ended up working on literary magazines, coaching soccer and driving the school lorry.
“I even worked in a bush hospital on the weekends helping deliver babies!” said Josephson.
Wrapping up the panel, President Foster discussed the support of the Peace Corps. “The first ten weeks when I went [to Swaziland] was just with other Peace Corps volunteers learning about the culture, food, ceremonies, and language,” she said. “So, you really feel like you have a network, even when you’re posted to a remote village.”
To learn about opportunities to challenge yourself and be a part of the Peace Corps contact Career Counselor Cyndi McShane at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
By Gavin Elliott – Contributing Writer
UMF’s softball team recently completed their fall ball season with a tight-knit scrimmage that pitted Beaver against Beaver.
The 2017-2018 Softball Team (L to R)
Top row: Coach Kat McKay, Justice Merrill, Alyssa Dillan, Tasha DeRoche, Kailyn Hill, Brianna McGrath, Kayleigh Oberg, Brittany Dugal, and Kalyn Grover.
Bottom row: Melissa Veitch, Amber Grady, Callie Hammer, Margaret Fogarty, Erika Whitman, Taylor Burke, Amber Raymond, and Abby Shields.
Not shown: Kylee Atwood and Hope Faulkingham
(Photo courtesy of Kiana Thompson)
After the scrimmage, UMF sophomore Alyssa Dillian said, “it was a great way to end the [fall ball] season because it was competitive, but also really fun.”
This scrimmage was just one of several ways to help the team bond. According to second-year Head Coach Kat McKay, “the purpose of fall ball is to bring together a group of people, some who have never met or played together, put them on the same page, and start to build unity in what everyone already has knowledge of.”
This especially benefits freshmen who have never had a chance to play with the softball team before. “I felt like a part of the team…I got to understand my new team’s personality,” said Callie Hammer, a UMF freshman.
UMF sophomore Amber Grady echoed her team’s sentiments. “It was definitely a learning experience for all of us.” Along with building skill and communication with the team, the players also learned about one another on a personal level.
Beginning last year, the softball team went on its second annual team bonding trip. This year, the Beavers went camping in Avon, Maine for one night.
“Last year we went canoeing,” said McKay. “It’s about getting the girls out of their comfort zones because they finally start to laugh together and let their guard down.”
Reiterating Coach McKay’s comment, Grady said, “[the camping trip] went really well, we all got to know everyone and see each other come out of our shells.”
Reminiscing about the trip, Erika Whitman, a UMF sophomore, looked at her teammates and laughed, saying she “loved when we sat around the campfire and bonded over pizza and embarrassing stories.”
Smiling and chuckling at Whitman’s comment, UMF sophomore Kalyn Grover added, “my favorite part was definitely watching the sunrise with my teammates,” said Grover.
After a two month break, the team will resume their hard work and practice at the start of the new year, followed by a trip to Clermont, Florida to compete in the 2018 Spring Games in March. Here, the Beavers will play a variety of teams from all over the U.S..
At the Spring Games, the team will not only be together on the field, but also staying together for an entire week. “I’m looking forward to [the Spring Games], being with my team again and hanging out,” said Dillian. “[We] really bond in Florida when [we] get to live together and get our first chance to play against others with our new team.”
Last year in regular season, the team’s only goal was to beat the previous year’s number of wins. However, the team “found so much success, it opened some of the other team’s eyes to UMF being a contender,” said McKay.
Looking forward to the upcoming season, Dillian said, “it will take some work to get to where we left off last season, but I think we are capable of repeating what we did last year, even with our young team.”
Although there is uncertainty about how this year’s team will perform in the spring season, one thing is clear: the team is looking forward to picking up their gloves and bats to prove themselves on the field once again.