Dougherty, left, and daughter Monica both served in the Peace
Terry in Afghanistan, Monica in Kazakhstan.
Advocates for peace
By Nancy Vendrely
The Journal Gazette
Thursday, December 27, 2001
Peace Corps volunteers come home with renewed perspective
Terry Dougherty stood atop the 170-foot Buddha statue in Bamiyan
in 1972, he looked out over a peaceful Afghanistan.
that day, both the statue and the peace have disappeared.
a Peace Corps volunteer in that country from December 1972 to
January 1975, naturally has thought of the time more than usual
in the past three months as U.S.-led coalition forces have bombed
Afghanistan to root out the al-Qaida network and Osama bin Laden.
52, one of three former Peace Corps volunteers interviewed about
their reaction to events since Sept. 11, says he and his former
wife chose the Peace Corps after graduating from Indiana University-Purdue
University Fort Wayne in spring 1972.
had a student deferment and a high lottery number and hadn't had
to do military service," he says. "It was a (President)
Kennedy 'ask not' kind of call - it was my alternative service."
Corps volunteer Monica Dougherty, daughter of Terry Dougherty
and Trisha Gensic, says she knew from a young age she wanted to
heard about it my whole life," Monica says, "and I was
always interested in other cultures."
Boener was enticed by Peace Corps commercials about "the
toughest job you'll ever love," and by her love of travel.
I was a high school freshman, I wanted to do the Peace Corps,"
Boener, 26, and Monica Dougherty, 26, finished their Peace Corps
service just last year. Boener served in the Dominican Republic
from July 1998 to September 2000. Dougherty was in Kazakhstan
from June 1998 to June 2000.
tragic events of the last few months have reinforced one of the
major realizations these volunteers brought home - that openness
to other cultures is key to understanding them.
first thing you learn is real open-mindedness," Monica Dougherty
says. "Our way of doing things is not necessarily the right
way for everyone."
thing is the same in the U.S. and all over the world," Boener
says. "In every culture, there's bad and good. . . . There's
a lot of fear right now and it's very understandable. But I encourage
people to get out and meet the (local) international community
and talk to them. They want the same things in their lives as
we do - for their families, their kids' schools, and not to live
Dougherty says that after a Peace Corps experience, "you
can no longer view people in other parts of the world as somehow
separate and different. You find the humanity we all share. Peace
Corps volunteers come back with a changed perspective on their
relationship with humankind."
in 1961, the Peace Corps has sent more than 164,000 volunteers
to 135 countries. Today, more than 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers
are in 70 countries, teaching, working to improve health and nutrition
of families and assisting small businesses and non-governmental
Oct. 1, the Peace Corps suspended its programs in the Central
Asian nations of Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, neighboring
countries of Afghanistan, because of security concerns. But there
have been no Peace Corps volunteers in Afghanistan since 1978,
when communists took over.
Dougherty arrived in 1972, Mohammad Zaher Shah, king since 1933,
still reigned. English was required in the secondary schools,
girls went to school until age 14 (when many married), and many
men and women worked together and went to school together. Yet,
he says, some groups were more conservative and some Muslim women
wore the burqa, a head-to-toe covering.
taught English in a boys' high school in Talaqan for a year, then
taught for a year at a coed teacher's college in Kabul, where
his wife taught at a high school for married women, "who
tended to be wives of high officials."
now senior programmer analyst in Information Technology Services
at IPFW, says most of the ethnic groups in Afghanistan have nomadic
were camel drivers, shepherds, weavers of carpets - nomads from
the steppes of Central Asia. . . . They can move with few possessions
and minimal requirements for housing and preparation of food.
Wheat is ground on stone to bake bread and the oven is a hole
with a fire made of twigs."
Corps volunteers found most people to be "very open and accepting
. . . very hospitable."
of the Afghans Dougherty knew became refugees after Russia invaded
the country in 1979, yet he finds his reaction to the war being
waged there now is "very emotional. It's like having a family
member under attack."
the bombing started, Dougherty called the White House to protest.
also wrote to our senator. I asked him not to do this. I am a
pacifist, actively engaged in non-violent resolution of conflict.
. . . This is not, in my opinion, a war - 9/11 was an act of terrorism,
not perpetrated by a nation or state. It was perpetrated by a
is concerned about what will happen to the widows and children.
of the restrictive nature of their society and many men killed
in war, the women will be destitute," he says.
generation of boys has been fed jihad . . . and it's continuing
in many parts of the world. . . . If we don't provide an alternative
and some income for these people, then these radical terrorists
will continue to influence them."
father, like daughter
from Kazakhstan, another Central Asian country, just over a year,
Monica Dougherty, shares her father's concerns.
have a lot of mixed feelings. . . . I knew a lot about the Taliban
even before. I was so upset about the way they treated women and
anyone who didn't agree with them," she says. "People
didn't understand why I was upset, why I cared. (Now), everybody
they've been doing in Afghanistan was horrible, but I'm a pacifist
and I don't feel bombing of people is right. . . . There are special
forces that could have gone after the terrorists."
graduate of Snider High School and Indiana University, Bloomington,
Dougherty went to Kazakhstan as an environmental educator, assigned
to work with non-governmental organizations in Pavlodar, a city
about the size of Fort Wayne, not far from the Russian border.
she taught ecology and English in middle school and high school,
teaching in both Russian and English.
the fall of the Soviet Union, Dougherty says some things are better
in Kazakhstan, "but a lot of things are worse, especially
unemployment. . . . Before, they had a job and could feed their
families. Now, 5 percent are getting rich and 95 percent are getting
poorer every year.
it seemed like it was getting better. Businesses would open -
24-hour supermarkets, pharmacies. . . . During the Soviet Union,
people had money but nothing to buy, and now they have plenty
to buy and no money."
says she learned how people can see the United States "as
a super power, trampling on them."
. . Kazakhstan has some large oil reserves and Americans have
the rights to it but haven't started drilling. Kazakhs thought
it would be a boost for the economy, but they haven't seen anything
working with a non-profit group dealing with environmental issues
in Indianapolis, Dougherty says she can't help but think "there
are always a lot of games being played" in the high echelons
of government and the military.
feel a lot of stuff happens that the average American doesn't
know about and doesn't seem to care about."
to the land
Boener's experience in the Dominican Republic, in some ways, took
her back to her rural Indiana roots. A graduate of the University
of Evansville, with a major in international studies and a minor
in Spanish, Boener grew up on a farm near Plymouth. In the Peace
Corps, she spent two years as an agricultural extension officer
in Canafistol, 20 minutes from a Caribbean beach and 40 minutes
from the mountains.
worked with farmers on irrigation, use of pesticides, crop rotation,
tree grafting - whatever their concerns were.
taking what you know from the U.S. and what they're trying to
do in that country and you collaborate. . . . I also had families
I visited on a regular basis. That's one of the most important
things about the Peace Corps, keeping up the visiting.
let the culture and the people affect you as much as possible
but you also have to remember who you are and where you came from.
. . . It forces you to think about who you are, because you are
the different one."
hopes to do a lot more traveling, even though she realizes some
people fear traveling.
be honored to go to the Middle East some day and see that culture
and experience that culture. . . . What makes me sad is people
who have never traveled may never do it now."
who worked with non-profit organizations in Washington and in
Oceanside, Calif., before joining the Peace Corps has been director
of immigration and refugee services at Catholic Charities for
the Diocese of Fort Wayne and South Bend since March.
is really a dream job," she says, "so I decided to stay
in Indiana for awhile."
is needed now
think right now we need the Peace Corps more than ever,"
Boener says. "Cultural understanding between people in the
U.S. and other countries is needed more than ever. A lot of walls
have been built up."
must be open-minded to other cultures. If you think your way is
the only way, you can become very extremist - like the Talibans."
Dougherty, involved in peace movements through Church of the Brethren
and the Fellowship of Reconciliation at Manchester College, believes
American foreign policy must change, too.
the biggest gun trader in the world - we provide the means and
the training. It is a military/industrial complex problem. We
have to stop repeating this mistake."
went to Washington in September for the dedication of Peace Park,
commemorating the work of Peace Corps founder and longtime director
Sargent Shriver. A quote from Shriver is posted at the site: "Serve,
serve, serve. That's the challenge. For in the end, it will be
the servants who save us all."
believes that, too.
have to share. The opportunity for a healthy life and for education
and for a safe existence needs to be propagated throughout the