Alumnus Paolo Abon excels as Peace Corps member in Thailand
LSU School of Education alumnus Paolo "J.P." Abon excels around the globe as a Peace Corps member in Thailand. Abon completed his master's degree in the K-12 educational leadership program in 2010 and is currently completing his second year in the corps.
LSU Human Sciences & Education
Abon's desire to travel and learn about different cultures was ignited after a one-week mission trip to Costa Rica during graduate school. His interest in the Peace Corps grew, and he began the application process for the two-year commitment.
"I woke up one day and decided that I wasn't ready nor did I want to enter the workforce yet," Abon said. "I wanted to disappear for a while and see if what I felt during that one week in Costa Rica was a passing fancy or something that could lead me to a lifelong adventure."
Abon arrived in Thailand in January 2011 and completed his pre-service training in Ayutthaya in March 2011. He has been living in Nakhon Sawan, Thailand, for the past 26 months with no visits back to the United States.
As an education volunteer, Abon introduces innovative teaching methodologies, encourages critical thinking in the classroom, and integrates issues like health education and environmental awareness into English, math, science and other subjects.
In addition to Abon's contribution of principal corps duties, he has built the community a new playground, provided English books for the village library, and hosted three informational camps based on English education, environmental education and sexual health. Abon joined the Peace Corps to improve the lives of people, but he also gained the opportunity to learn the customs and traditions of Thailand, where he was graciously welcomed and earned friends who will last a lifetime.
The LSU K-12 educational leadership program prepared Abon to manage large groups of people, conduct clinical supervisions, maintain professional development and effectively implement conflict management.
"I can always trace my current and prior techniques to what I practiced in graduate school," Abon said.
"Our graduates do great things in education leadership all over the world," Assistant Professor of Education Dana Bickmore said. "The fact that J.P. wanted to use these leadership skills in the Peace Corps really shows his initiative to make a difference."
Abon says that he feels he has received more from the Thai people than he has given them. Abon explained the generosity, friendliness and devotion typical of the Thai people.
"There really is something to be said about a country where people don't want to leave and, when they do, the first thing they want to do is come back," Abon said. "Thailand holds a certain mystique and my everyday interactions with the Thais are something that I will cherish for the rest of my life"
LSU Human Sciences & Education
Abon completed his term in March 2013. While he considered extending his contract, he felt that after two years it was time to come back home.
"Everyone has a story to tell," Abon said. "And I find that the most interesting and fascinating tales come from people who left a familiar world to enter into a new one."
Peace Corps volunteers fill a wide variety of positions in locations throughout the world. The general categories include education, youth & community development, health, business and information & communication technology, agriculture, environment, HIV/AIDS, food security, earth day and stomp out malaria.
The Peace Corps was established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy to promote world peace and friendship. The corps mission is founded on three main goals: helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served and helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
For more information about the Peace Corps, visit http://www.peacecorps.gov/.
The School of Education is one of six schools realigned to form the LSU College of Human Sciences & Education, joining the School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library and Information Science, the School of Social Work and the University Laboratory School. For more information, visit www.lsu.edu/chse.
For more information about the School of Education, visit http://www.lsu.edu/education.