Sarah Norton, 22, the daughter of Richard and Melinda Norton of Cleveland, Tn., has been accepted into the first group of volunteers to serve in the Peace Corps in Cambodia.
Ms. Norton departed for Cambodia to teach high school English and work on local community development projects. Ms. Norton's work will include training teachers how to effectively teach English and helping communities establish literacy programs.
A graduate of Bradley Central High School, she attended Lee University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in intercultural studies in 2006; she also earned a TEFL certificate - teaching English as a foreign language. Norton previously worked with family literacy programs and taught English for two and one-half months in Thailand.
Ms. Norton joined the Peace Corps because she feels she wants to help others with her skills in a real life situation.
“The Peace Corps attracted me,” said Ms. Norton, “because it provides everything for you - safety and security, and working together as a group learning how to adapt to a foreign culture.”
During the first three months of her service, Ms. Norton will live with a host family in Cambodia to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the language and cultural skills necessary to assist her community, Ms. Norton will serve for two years in her host community, living at the same level as the local people.
Ms. Norton joins the 87 Tennessee residents currently serving in the Peace Corps.
Although the Peace Corps and the Royal Government of Cambodia signed an agreement in 1994, political instability and budgetary constraints did not allow Peace Corps to establish a post in Cambodia until 2007.
Peace Corps has launched its program in Cambodia with a teaching-English-as-a-foreign-language (TEFL) project. This project is geared toward classroom teaching of English at the upper secondary level. It will also support teachers in Cambodian provinces and districts to improve their English language and English teaching skills.
The first group of TEFL volunteers arrived in Phnom Penh in February. The scope of the volunteers’ work, however, will not be limited to classroom teaching. Volunteers will collaborate with community groups and individuals to develop community-initiated projects, promote life skills, and achieve sustainable community activities, enhancing the quality of life for Cambodians in the communities where volunteers serve.
The Peace Corps is celebrating a 45-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and a 30-year high for volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 182,000 volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 138 countries where volunteers have served. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.