Oct. 20, 2004
By Jennifer Cochran
In the past month, Karl Federspiel has moved to Athens, his wife gave birth to their first child, he began graduate school majoring in Southeast Asian Studies and he became the new Peace Corps recruiter for Ohio University.
Federspiel is excited to be in Athens and looks forward to working with Ohio University students as the campus Peace Corps recruiter and says, "I think it's going to be tremendously rewarding because of the enthusiasm Ohio University students have for the Peace Corps."
As a Peace Corps volunteer, Federspiel served as a teacher-trainer in the Philippines' Mountain Province from 1997 to 1999. He lived with a host-family in the village of Guinzadan, home to less than 600 people. Federspiel's main assignment as a Peace Corps volunteer involved providing training to English teachers in five schools through demonstration lessons.
Federspiel also worked on several secondary projects.
After seeing that a larger nearby village had a baseball team, he organized a team in his village and secured a donation of equipment from the United States Marines serving at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
Federspiel also organized several tree plantings in partnership with the schools he served to address the issue of deforestation, which he says was "one of the most gratifying and successful projects that I did [while in the Peace Corp]."
Life in the Philippines provided Federspiel with ample opportunities to learn. He says the experience prepared him for the work he would do as an English teaching associate at California State University-Fresno where he used some of the teaching methods he learned in the Peace Corps in his large multi-cultural classes. Perhaps most importantly for day-to-day life, Federspiel acquired foreign language skills - learning to speak Ilokano, the language of his region, and Northern Kankanay, the local dialect spoken in his village. This summer he continued his language studies at the University of Wisconsin with an intensive course in Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines.
Federspiel met his wife, Irene, at a McDonald's restaurant in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, while serving in the Peace Corps. Irene's family lives in the Philippines, giving the couple the opportunity to return to the country several times since the conclusion of Karl's Peace Corps service.
The Federspiels are the new parents of daughter Kasandra who arrived soon after their relocation to Athens. Karl, who is originally from Newark, Ohio, says he has always liked Athens and hopes to stay in the area for quite some time because he sees Athens as a great place to raise a family and settle down.
He is also impressed with Ohio University students' interests in the Peace Corps and turnout at the University's volunteer fair.
"I think students here are very service oriented and culturally aware," Federspiel says. "They all want to join Peace Corps for the right reasons."
In 2003, 19 Ohio University students were accepted into Peace Corps service; 18 students are currently working as Peace Corps volunteers. Ohio University and Athens are also home to a large community of returned Peace Corps volunteers who come here to pursue graduate degrees, teach or contribute to the community in many ways.
Jennifer Cochran is the assistant director for communication and graduate programming for the Center for International Studies.