Idaho Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Inc.

Affiliated with the National Peace Corps Association

Bringing Peace
Corps Home

Peace Corps Goals

The Peace Corps' mission has three simple goals:

  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

IRPCV & The Third Goal

Stories by Idaho Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Dave Greegor, Jr. (Mexico 2007-2011)

In 1975, Dr. Greegor joined the Biology Department at Nebraska Wesleyan University (Lincoln, NE). During his 15 years at NWU, he co-founded and was the director of a teaching - research station in western New Mexico. He taught a wide variety of biology, ecology, and environmental science classes, published in refereed papers and book chapters, and guest-edited a special issue of BioScience magazine. During a leave of absence he joined the Natural Resources faculty at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage.

Dave went to work for the Idaho Department of Water Resources as an Aquatic Biologist and Water Resource Planner in 1990. As a lead planner for 13 years, he coordinated multi-disciplinary planning teams, charged with the development of river basin plans throughout the state which involved extensive work with the public. In 2003, he took a position as Supervising Environmental Scientist with the engineering environmental consulting firm to serve as the technical coordinator on the Utah Lake System EIS team until the project completion. Afterward, he took a one-year appointment to teach Biology and Environmental Studies at Albertson The College of Idaho. Dave also taught at Boise State University and initiated a new class called The Global Environment which he taught for 15 years. At Boise State, he also taught with the Honors College where he was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Member by the students. He was recently (2007-2011) a Peace Corps volunteer in Mexico, along with his wife, helping the Mexican environmental agency, SEMARNAT, with some of their massive watershed problems. Currently, he is a Research Associate and Curator of Herpetology at the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History, College of Idaho, where he was a visiting professor of biology and environmental students for a year before going into the Peace Corps and where he intends to teach again next year.

Dave has been involved in ecological studies all over the world, including Antarctica, Mexico, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands and Argentina. He spent two summers as a research fellow with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Texas, which led to several seminal publications on the subject of satellite monitoring of global vegetation patterns. He has a peak in Antarctica named in his honor. He loves teaching science to university and adult students, doing public outreach, ecology field studies, traveling, exercise, and just about any outdoor activity. He is a mildly serious blues musician (harmonica).

Peace Corps is a Family Tradition

The following stories are from The Lewiston Tribune.

Peace Corps celebrates half-century mark. Moe Pare was there. By Alannah Allbrett

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Peace Corps (PC), established by President John F. Kennedy for the stated purpose of “Promoting peace and friendship around the world.” Many residents of the Clearwater Valley were part of that historic effort that has helped form who they are today.

Many of your neighbors shared their amazing and colorful stories with the Clearwater Tribune and some return volunteers are displaying pictures and memorabilia of their years of service in the Clearwater Historical Museum. In the next few months, the Clearwater Tribune will feature some locals who went to exotic places which taught them more about their own country as well.

Moe Pare is one such example. After graduating from high school, Moe Pare volunteered for the draft and served two years in the military. After his military service he completed four years of college and decided he “hadn’t done very much worthwhile” yet. [Most people would disagree with that statement.] He had three job/opportunities: working in Switzerland, working for a Cali-fornia company, or joining the newly formed (1961) Peace Corps. He chose the latter, and Switzerland’s loss was Ecuador’s gain for that’s where he was assigned for two years.

Moe received about three months language and cultural training in Bozeman, MT and further training in a boot camp-like setting in Puerto Rico. Since the Peace Corps was brand new, its founders thought it necessary that applicants undergo rigorous physical testing. Moe said volunteers were required to rappel down mountains, complete survival swimming in the ocean, and be able to survive in the jungle. He reports many otherwise qualified people dropped out of the program, so that kind of rigorous testing was discontinued. Moe said, “The locals thought we were training to invade Cuba.”

The Spanish speaking country of Ecuador is situated along the Equator with the coastal region being hot, steamy jungle ranging to the Andes Mountains’ 20,000’ frozen peaks. Moe was trained in forestry management, so he was sent to the town of Ibaña (population 20,000) in a hilly region in the Province of Imbabura in north central Ecuador. He likened the hills there to the bare ones around Lewiston. The job there was to teach the planting of trees and to establish forestry cooperatives.

Moe arrived to the rural area by bus. Since the people of the region are predominantly Catholic religiously and culturally, everything is tied-in with the Catholic Church. Moe said the local Bishop lived in a complex with a cathedral on one corner, and a church on the other end of the block. There was a vacant shed (a storage room) in between the two buildings where he and his roommate were told they could live. The shed had electricity, a toilet, and a sink, but did not have a stove or hot water.

When asked, ‘What was the most valuable thing he took away from the Peace Corps?’ Moe said, “My wife Joan.” Joan, another PC volunteer, was trained in extension work and school luncheon programs. After being in Ecuador a year together, the couple married and their first child, Shawn was born there.

Moe said that since the PC experience is so unique and the Corps highly selective, most PC volunteers have a great deal in common with each other when they serve together in a foreign country. Six of the volunteers (during the time when he was there) not only got married but had children while serving.

Moe and Joan brought their three month old baby home to the states, and their family continued to grow. They had two more children, daughter Michelle, and son Tom (all OHS graduates).

The couple’s daughter Michelle grew up and served in the Peace Corps in Mali Africa which pretty much answers the question, ‘Would you recommend this experience to your children?’

Moe lost his wife Joan in 2003, but they shared not only a life together, but a great story to tell of their beginnings as a family.

Peace Corps is a Family Tradition By Brian Beesley

Michele (Pare) Magera, the daughter of returned Peace Corps volunteers Joan and Maurice Pare, followed in their footsteps when she served in Konna, Mali, from 1988 to 1990. Like her father, she worked with forestation programs and community garden projects in the West African country. Magera, a 1983 graduate of Orofino High School and a 1988 graduate of the University of Idaho, now lives in Alice Springs, Northern Territories, Australia, where she is a nurse with the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. She and her husband, Andy, have a son and a daughter. She answered a few questions via email:

Q. What was the impact of having parents who'd served in the Peace Corps?

A. I grew up with my parents' Peace Corps stories. I think that, since they served together and were right at the start of the program, they had a lot of energy and enthusiasm about their experiences.

A very fond childhood memory of mine, is watching the slideshow my father put together about their time in Ecuador. It seemed that every time we had guests for dinner, the slideshow was the after-dinner entertainment. I never grew tired of hearing the stories - I could recite them to this day. I think what impressed me the most was not only the positive attitude they had, but the adventure of serving at that time, in the early '60s. Stories of their training sounded more like boot camp in those days - repelling, survival swimming in the ocean with a flight suit on, and having to spend three nights in the jungle with nothing but their wits. And even stories of headhunters!

My parents were also married in Ecuador and my brother was born there. There were no telephones - if urgent communication was needed, it was done through telegraph. In the '60s the Peace Corps was truly off the map!

I think I always knew then that joining the Peace Corps was always going to be in my future. An inevitable result of my parents' enthusiasm and love of their experience.

Q. What was your primary motivation for joining?

A. My motivation ... came from several places.

First was the fact that I knew I wanted to join since I was a child, and that desire didn't fade as I grew up. I think it was also about timing: I was living in Seattle after college and really felt I had no clear direction in which I was headed; I was floating a bit. I ended up working with someone who had just returned from Niger - we had a lot of time during work to talk - so we talked about the Peace Corps, and that just tipped the decision to go. He had had a tough but positive experience.

The whole idea of the Peace Corps always appealed to me, not only the idea of service to improve people's lives but to the "adventure" involved.

Q. Any funny and/or profound stories to share?

A. During 21/2 years in a Third World country, every day had a story, and profound things happened frequently. So much of it runs together. ...

A story that I still remember fondly and that brings a chuckle is, one day I was sitting with another volunteer - we both had been in country for quite some time. A camel came trotting by with two white tourists riding on top. We sat and stared at them for a while, until they went out of sight, then looked at each other and laughed hysterically. We couldn't get over how funny "white people" looked. We had grown accustomed to seeing only black Africans, and seeing other white people seemed very bizarre. I think that's what the Peace Corps does - it changes your vision. We were actually looking at the tourists through different eyes!

Before I went to Africa I was worried about being among all "black" people. Having grown up in Idaho and having spent most of my life in the Northwest, I didn't have many chances to get to know many folks of different skin color. What was interesting though, after I had been in Mali, West Africa, for a while, was yes, they were all black but I was white ... I was the different one. I was the one they all had preconceived ideas about. It was sometimes a hard position to be in, but one that taught me not to judge others.

Q. How has your PC experience affected your life since?

A. I think that, as a volunteer, going to a Third World country and living as a "local" - learning the language, culture, living without running water, telephones, toilets, computers, electricity - you learn much more about yourself than anything else. You also learn from the people of your host country: They teach you more than you can ever teach them.

The Peace Corps does change your life and has different meaning for each volunteer. For me, not only was it the fulfillment of a dream but also the start of another: It gave me a tremendous sense of self-confidence and the ability to pursue a career in nursing. I was guided by my experiences in Africa, and knew it was the direction I wanted to go.

Since completing my nursing degree, I have worked with under-served populations - I worked 10 years with migrant farm workers in the Yakima Valley, and am currently working with Aboriginals in Australia. Everyone on the planet deserves access to health care. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect regardless of background. I learned this from my parents and the Peace Corps.