Julianne Amundson

Peace Corps Press Release:

Julianne AmundsonWASHINGTON, D.C., August 31, 2011—Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams is saddened to announce the death of Peace Corps volunteer Julianne Amundson. Julianne, 69, was serving as an English teacher with the Peace Corps program in Jordan and died of natural causes in Stockton, Calif., on August 27. Julianne is survived by four sons.

“Julianne was an exceptional volunteer and a committed English teacher working to strengthen our friendship with the people of Jordan,” said Director Williams. “On behalf of the entire Peace Corps community, our thoughts are with Julianne’s family, friends, and fellow volunteers.”

Julianne arrived in Jordan for Peace Corps training in October 2009 and was sworn in as a volunteer in December 2009. She served as an English teacher at Um Ar-Rasas Comprehensive Girls School in Jordan. At the school, she helped create a reading library with globes, maps, a computer, and other reference materials for teachers.

As a secondary Peace Corps project, she worked with her community to establish a resource center for local women to sell handicrafts at the Um Ar-Rasas Roman Mosaic site, which contains some of the largest historical mosaics in Jordan. Julianne was to complete her service in December 2011.

Prior to serving with the Peace Corps, Julianne worked for many years as a teacher in Stockton, Calif. She taught child development and family education in the Lincoln Unified School District in Stockton, and was a resource teacher in the Pasadena Unified School District. She also served for two years as the president of Mable Barron Elementary School Parent, Teacher, Student Association.

Julianne, who was to complete her service in December 2011, was known by the Peace Corps community for her kindheartedness.  She cared deeply about her students and inspired others with her experience, wisdom, and sense of humor.

Julianne was an exceptional Volunteer who dedicated her life to service and helping others.

Donations may also be made to the Amundson Family Cancer Prevention Fund, c/o Lincoln High Schools, 2010 W. Swain Road, Stockton, Calif. 95207.

Globetrotters for a Good Cause
By Jo Ann Kirby
The Stockton Record: Oct 25, 2009

At a time when most people her age are thinking about retirement, one Stockton woman is preparing for the adventure of a lifetime – one that will take her far from family and friends.

Julianne Amundson, 67, left Stockton last week for a 27-month stint with the Peace Corps in Jordan, where she will teach English as a second language.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. My four children are grown and I’m a widow, so I thought this would be the right time to go,” said Amundson, who took a leave from her job as a resource teacher with Lincoln Unified. “Everyone has been very positive and very supportive.”

Amundson is now part of a foreign service organization launched by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 that has record numbers of applicants wanting to share their skills by volunteering.
Peace Corps recruited 15,386 applicants in fiscal year 2009. This represents the largest amount of applications since the agency began electronically recording applications in 1998 and is an 18 percent increase from fiscal year 2008.

“Our record application numbers are another indicator of the strong interest in public service,” Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams said in announcing the increase in applications. “From recent college graduates to our midcareer or retired applicants, Americans are inspired to serve their country and the world as Peace Corps volunteers. Peace Corps is a tremendous leadership opportunity for individuals prepared to live and work for two years in a community abroad.”

Joining the Peace Corps isn’t a way to make money, it’s a way to serve others. Like other volunteers, Amundson will be paid a stipend that’s just enough to cover her living expensives during her assignment. She said she is expected to live simply, as is the norm in the village where she’ll be serving her Peace Corps stint.

And Amundson is also part of a growing minority in the Peace Corps – she’s one of 6 percent of the organization’s volunteers who are older than 50.  “They are actively recruiting people 50 and over because they realized we have a lot of life experience,” she said. “It’s another chapter in life.”
Furthermore, she is one of more than a half-dozen Peace Corps volunteers from San Joaquin County who are currently serving in the Peace Corps abroad, according to Nathan Sargent of the Peace Corps’ Oakland recruiting office.

Joyce Ki, a Franklin High School graduate, left in September for the Ukraine, where her mother said she is adjusting to a new climate and culture. “She says it is very cold there,” Monica Ki of Stockton said of her 21-year-old daughter who graduated from University of California, Berkeley, where she studied pre-law. “I was nervous at first but then I finally came to agree that this is a good experience for her. She will be helping out an underdeveloped nation and learn a lot. I so proud of her.”

Vinh Pham, 27, of Stockton returned home in 2007 from a Peace Corps stint where he served in Kazahkstan and is now hoping to pursue a teaching career. “I lived with a family for a year and then a year by myself,” he said. “I probably learned as much from the people there as they did from myself. It’s hard for me to describe it because it was such a huge, huge experience for me.”

Sargent says the Peace Corps appreciates its volunteers from the San Joaquin County and notes that the area’s diversity is important because the Peace Corps strives to reflect the diversity of the United States.

“We have great opportunities for people who have a background in education or agriculture,” he said. “We’ve never had an upper age limit, but in 2007, we started actively recruiting people over age 50. A lot of them remember JFK’s call for service and now people are responding to Obama’s call for service.”

As she finished packing this past weekend – Amundson is only allowed to take 80 pounds of luggage and one carry-on – the new recruit said she is looking forward to meeting the Jordanian family she will be living with in the village of Al Mafraq while she undergoes nine weeks of training.

“I’ve been reading many, many things about the culture,” she said. “I’m going to learn about them and they are going to learn about me and we’ll share that will others. It’s going to be an amazing bridge.”

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