Stories• Two Peace Corps Volunteers Return to Panama (March 2002)
I was born in Washington, DC, to a caring Mom who didn't finish
high school, and a Dad who never quite found himself.
As a result of a playground accident when I was ten, I became
totally blind. While attending a school for the blind, I
participated in in track as a sprinter and high jumper, and was
captain of my wrestling team. I also served as editor of my high
school paper, and had major roles in five fully staged dramatic
I attended American University in Washington, where I found a lot
of meaning in student government, and worked as a
volunteer engineer on the campus radio station.
Before attending graduate school, I landed a scholarship with the
Experiment in International Living and spent a summer in Austria.
That's where I had the chance to learn about myself in a very
different culture, and discovered the thrill and joy of becoming
an international citizen. As a direct result of this, after I earned my
Masters degree from Syracuse University, I joined
the U.S. Peace Corps and served as a volunteer for two years in
While looking for direction after the Peace Corps, I started work on a
Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh, and then took an unsatisfying job
at a rehab center in Atlanta. When I fled back north, simply through
circumstance, I became a career civil servant for
the U.S. Government, and worked twenty-two years as a senior
civil rights specialist in the Department of Health and Human
Services. I eventually completed my degree at Pitt.
In 1975 I was introduced to cross-country skiing and the
Norwegian culture, and eventually became President of an
international program called Ski for Light that teaches blind and
mobility impaired people to become more fully integrated in
society through participation in vigorous outdoor activity.
Through all the years since I left Panama, I've stayed in touch
with Panamanian and Peace Corps friends, and that has led to six
return visits. I've also visited Norway thirteen times, and have
visited thirty-two nations in all.
My wife and I live in Arlington, Virginia