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Chance of a Lifetime

By Sarah Lucas

The Connection

Joseph Taves of Fairfax graduated from UVA this past spring with a degree in commerce and a minor in astronomy. Rather than beginning a climb up the corporate ladder, Taves will be spending the next two years and three months working as a community economic advisor volunteer with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, teaching people basic rules about marketing products and helping women entrepreneurs. His service will be focused on women entrepreneurs because of evidence that countries in which women are held back are slower to develop.

“Dominican culture is very male dominated, all about machismo,” Taves said. “Peace Corps is working to break that down.”

Taves, who graduated from W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax in 1998, started thinking about joining the Peace Corps when he was a junior in college, when he and some friends vacationed in Europe.

“I think what started it was an interest in travel and other cultures,” Taves said.

Volunteering was also something that interested Taves in college, when he was a volunteer math tutor for elementary and middle school children.

“Using what I learned in school to help other people is something that interested me,” Taves said.

Taves, who left Sept. 1 for the Dominican Republic, will have an opportunity once again to use his knowledge as a volunteer, since he has a background in banking. He would also like to be able to possibly use his minor in astronomy.

“They have a much better view of the stars down there,” Taves said. “Maybe I’ll have some opportunities to teach some kids (about the stars).”

During his service, Taves will have three and half weeks of vacation a year, during which he hopes to come home to visit his family and friends. He will have access to the Internet to keep in touch with people. Although the volunteers do get paid, it is only enough for subsistence living.

“More than anything I’ll be missing dishwashers, washing machines, clean running water and basic things I take for granted here,” Taves said.

Taves is also nervous about learning the language, since he has not spoken Spanish since he took it in high school. He would like to become fluent in Spanish.

“The main idea behind the Peace Corps is becoming part of that culture,” Taves said. “That’s going to be a big challenge for me, I think.”

After his service in the Peace Corps, Taves wants to use the experience and his fluency in Spanish in his career. He wants to work with either the government or a business in an international capacity. What he most wants to take away from the experience is the opportunity to learn about another culture and share his culture with others.

“I want to meet a lot of people and really get to know them,” Taves said. “[I want to] share what’s great about America with other people."

Girl Scouts Dedicate Garden for 9/11

On Sept. 11, the girls of Junior Troop 816 dedicated their rain garden at Hidden Pond Nature Center in Springfield to the victims and survivors of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The girls held a candlelight roll call that included the names of neighbors and friends who were killed in the attack on the Pentagon. Each girl lighted a candle as she read the name, age and hometown of one of the victims. About 35 parents and people from the local community attended the ceremony. The girls read two poems written after the attacks, one composed by Rachel Bowman, a student at Keene Mill Elementary and a member of the troop. John Quinn, playing his guitar, led the group in singing the national anthem during the opening flag ceremony, and then Lee Greenwood’s song “I’m Proud to Be an American” at the closing. A park sign to be erected this year in front of the rain garden will include the dedication to the victims and survivors of the attack. Fairfax County Water Authority recently awarded an education grant to the West Springfield Elementary School Girl Scout troop to assist in its work in educating the community about the value of rain gardens in protecting our natural environment.

Merritt Academy Remembers 9/11

The Merritt Academy, a private school (preschool through grade eight) in Fairfax, held an hour-long tribute recently that honored the victims of Sept. 11. The assembly, “Patriotism, Pride and Remembrance,” included students wearing red, white and blue, who sang patriotic songs and recited poems; a color guard ceremony; the Pledge of Allegiance; a moment of silence; and a hand-bell choir. The ceremony also included students lighting candles in honor of the school values. The school is committed to character development and excellence in education and won the National School of Character Award in 1999.

Welcome Back

William Halley Elementary PTA treasurer Gretchen Thompson hands a Halley student some home-made potato chips at a back-to-school barbecue the school held before William Halley Elementary’s Open House. The barbecue was catered by King Street Blues and was held on Thursday, Aug. 29, to welcome parents and children back to the school.

People Notes

Marisa and Alan Schmidt of Fairfax Station are among many others from Fairfax County who are serving on the committee of “A Night of Hope” black-tie affair founded last year to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on behalf of their children. The event will be held on Friday, Nov. 1, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown.

Susan Green Chadwick of Springfield, a clinical supervisor at Otolaryngology Associates, has been appointed to the Board of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology by Gov. Mark Warner.