Mark Brown is one of about 40 Peace Corps Environment Volunteers in Peru. He grew up on a farm in Wyoming, graduated with a degree in Botany from the University of Wyoming, and spent the five years before Peace Corps in the U.S. Army, including a 15 month deployment in Iraq, as a medic and in hospital management. He ended his military service in Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas in May 2009. He started Peace Corps training just three months later in September 2009. In style and substance, Peace Corps training was very different from the military training Mark knew. He swore in almost one year ago in November 2009. He was assigned to a small village of 350-400 people about six hours from Lima and over 3,400 meters high (over 10,500 feet) in the district of Yauyos, department of Lima.
When Mark left training, his language was low for the reason of being reluctant to make mistakes. He thought, “I may not be able to speak, but I can work” and so he went out to the fields on a regular basis with farmers and he joined in all the faenas, or community work days. This gained him respect very fast and helped him to integrate and, applying himself, he now speaks Spanish fluently. Mark seldom leaves site and what is notable is just how engaged he is with the community . After one year at site, his current activities include:
- comprehensive environment education three days weekly with primaria students and two days weekly with secundaria students, using the curriculum “Mi Ambiente Andino”;
- work on solid waste management, obtaining donated trash receptacles from the NGO Valle Grande and work to build a small landfill;
- help to four families on the cultivation of bees and honey to sell;
- re-forestation with the farmer’s association planting thousands of pine trees and native queñual trees;
- work with the new local office of the federal environment protection agency known as SERNANP to implement the Master Plan to protect and promote the Yauyos protected area; and
- work with other Volunteers and the municipality on promoting tourism to the area, among the most beautiful in Peru, with attention to promoting tourism to the hilltop, pre-Inca ruins above the village.
Mark sets a great example of service to his community and to other Volunteers. He is active and engaged, dedicated, and completely integrated into his community. He loves Peace Corps, his village, and sharing both the U.S. and Peruvian cultures.
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