OSWEGO, NY – An Oswego County resident is helping make the world a better place to live.
After high school, Joshua Peacock of Mexico earned his bachelor’s degree at Hobart & William Smith in Geneva. Then he headed to Washington, DC to get his master’s at Georgetown. Driven to do more, he joined the Peace Corps.
“I’m a volunteer with the Peace Corps in Namibia. I’m working at a Community Skills Development Centre (COSDEC) as a business and entrepreneurship specialist,” he said. “The COSDEC teaches vocational skills to high school dropouts as a way for them to have marketable skills in a few years.”
Namibia’s education system has students take a test at grade 10 and grade 12, if they pass both they can go to university, but if they fail either twice they are required to leave school and take outside classes until they can try again, he explained, adding that “many students just don’t bother.”
“At the COSDEC, my role is to help trainees who want to start their own businesses as well as establish and mentor COSDEC affiliated businesses to help the centre become self-sufficient,” Peacock told Oswego County Today. “Right now, COSDECs around the country are funded in large part by the government.”
The Peace Corps encourages the volunteers to work with their communities outside of whatever their main project is.
So, Peacock is partnering with the local radio station to co-host a business radio program, working with the local chamber of commerce to help register businesses and facilitate business management workshops.
“I’m starting a garden with our COSDEC trainees to promote sustainable agriculture and healthy eating (gout and diabetes are big health concerns in my region), helping to organize a GBV workshop with the local police, and a few other things to improve the economic and social environment,” he said.
Peacock applied to join the Peace Corps back in June 2015 and was accepted in September.
Volunteers had to undergo a battery of health evaluations to make sure they were fit for service. Peace Corps officials also helped them plan what to take to Namibia.
Peacock said he’d also spent a lot of time reading about Namibia and what to expect.
“I left in April 2016 and went through two months of technical and language training in-country before being sworn in as a volunteer and sent to my site. I was taught Otjiherero, the most spoken indigenous language in my region,” he said. “But, since coming to my site, I’ve also been teaching myself Afrikaans as that is the most common second language among Namibians in my region. The town my work is in is very culturally mixed. There are a lot of people who speak Khoisan, the ‘click’ language.”
“Honestly, the thing I miss most is probably the food. Being able to go get something to eat from almost anywhere in the world in the States was something that I really took for granted,” he said. “Oh, and the fact that WiFi was everywhere.