A Little “Peace” of Heaven: Serenity is SUR10

March 1-7 is Peace Corps Week. The Third Goal of Peace Corps is for volunteers to share their experiences after service. I’ve decided to post excerpts of emails I sent to family and friends during my life in Suriname (2004-06). Here is the 2nd of 7 posts related to my Third Goal:

July 30, 2004

Almost two weeks ago was volunteer week, and so everyone had a sampling of what our volunteer experience may be like.

…my volunteer week was spent at my assigned site, which is IICA. The Inter-American Institute for the Cooperation of Agriculture. … The IICA office is just north of downtown Parmaribo. It’s next to the soccer stadium. … It’s an old plantation house — white house with blue trim. The office is airconditioned. I would have my own office with airconditioning, and my own computer with Internet access… so much for the ultimate Peace Corps experience, huh…

IICA Office in Suriname

…The buses here don’t go on a schedule. They leave a starting point, in this case Lelydorp, after they are usually filled up. There are no scheduled stops either, and people raise their hands along the side of the road so the buses can pick them up. Buses are usually loud, booming with music — usually it’s the same reggae tune on every bus — and filled with decals of Indian actresses pouting their lips, sticking out their chests or winking at you… It’s quite the site if you’re seeing this for the first time like we did when we took the bus from the airport on June 3.

Line of buses in downtown Paramaribo

Swear-in is supposed to be a big deal. They are having the SUR 10 event at the Torarica Hotel, which is an international style hotel in Paramaribo. The president of Suriname has been invited as well as many of the embassy people. More about this in a future email.

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August 7, 2004:

Swearing in:

…After two months of sweating and stinking in the Suriname heat, this had to be the most dressed up we’d all seen each other. … We took a bus…to the Torarica hotel, and had plenty of giddiness on that ride.

The ceremony started off with a bunch of speeches from Peace Corps Staff. We were seated alphabetically, and were given our Peace Corps certificates, after that we stood up, raised our right hand and took the Peace Corps oath, which incidentially is the same oath the president takes… The oath was given to us by the U.S. Ambassador to Suriname…

Receiving my Peace Corps certificate - Photo by Sur10's David Gavlinsky (I think)

I started my intro in English, introduced my classmates one by one in Dutch, and thanked our language instructor, Joney in English. … After that, I told the audience…that we wanted to dedicate a quote to Joney in het Nederlands (in Dutch) by John F. Kennedy…. Thanks to Jeff in our class who had the quote taped in his room, we picked the Kennedy quote because it best reflected the time, the event and it was inspiring…

… this is the quote Kennedy had when inaugurated: In English, it’s this:

In the long history of the world, only a few generations are granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility- I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and those who serve it – and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

I memorized the quote in English, before I learned it in Dutch. The Dutch version was translated by Angelic, who is the PC programming director… Marlon, who was asst training director, helped me learn the pronunciation. I had memorized the Dutch version, although knowing this wasn’t a quote I could afford to stumble with, I had the quote with me when I got up in front of everyone and said it in Dutch. I got done, and the applause was…loud, exciting, humbling…from the audience and the SUR10ers, as many hadn’t heard the entire quote in English, much less in Dutch.

Sur10 at Swear-In Day

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Missed yesterday’s post? Click to read the entry from Monday.


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About accentphoto
Accent Photographics specializes in on-location baby, children and family photography, and special-event photography of weddings in eastern

One Response to A Little “Peace” of Heaven: Serenity is SUR10

  1. eropriano says:

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