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Description of Service
After a competitive application process stressing applicant skills, adaptability and cross-cultural understanding, Mrs. Laura Holt was invited into Peace Corps service. She was assigned as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language, at Alaverdi Secondary School #8, Armenia.
Mrs. Laura Holt entered training on June 3rd of 2004, participating in an intensive 12-week training program in Dilijan, Armenia. Language training included the acquisition of both written and spoken Armenian. Area Studies training included the history, economics and cultural norms of Armenia. In addition, as part of the language and cross-cultural component of the training program, Mrs. Laura Holt lived with an Armenian host family. Technical training included the history of the Education System in Armenia during the Soviet period and Post-Soviet period: Including, current trends in the Education System in Armenia, with specific emphasis on teacher trainings, team teaching and enhancing the quality of English curriculum and methods.
Mrs. Laura Holt arrived in Alaverdi, Armenia, a former Soviet industrial town with approximately 17,000 people, in September 2004 as a TEFL Peace Corps Volunteer at School #8.
Mrs. Laura Holt initiated and developed a School Kitchen and Windows Renovation proposal for School #8 to Peace Corps Small Project Assistance (SPA) program. She, along with the assistance of her husband, designed, wrote, and supervised all aspects of the proposal, including the budgeting, the delegation of responsibilities, and the monitoring and evaluation of the project. She was awarded the grant in September 2005 and is currently waiting for the completion of the project. Another Peace Corps Volunteer is overseeing the completion of the renovation of the kitchen and replacement of windows, set to be completed in November 2005.
Mrs. Laura Holt developed curriculum and lesson plans for teaching English both during daily school lessons and for after school clubs for School #8. She has taught to a total of 370 students during the course of her service in grades 3-10 and an adult club. She was able to get 50 English books donated to the school from Darien Books in America.
Mrs. Laura Holt developed a number of English teaching visual aides used to teach lessons. The hand-made visual aides were used by the school English teachers and sought after by other TEFL Peace Corps Volunteers. The visual aides were made to encourage hands on learning in a fun environment. Lessons taught with the visual aides included colors, verbs, numbers, prepositions, and vocabulary.
Mrs. Laura Holt initiated and oversaw the remodeling of an English teaching and resource classroom at School #8. She initiated the project based on a need from the school to have a designated room available for an English library, teaching resources, and visual aides. The room is being looked at as a model for other schools in the area to follow.
Mrs. Laura Holt initiated and coordinated a computer project to get over 100 computers from Spokane, Washington to Armenia. In coordination with Whitworth College, who is donating the computers, and the Armenian Support Project, who is coordinating logistics to get the computers from America to Armenia, the project will see a number of school and NGOs benefit. As of September 29, 2005, the project was still ongoing and continuing with the help of another Peace Corps Volunteer.
Mrs. Laura Holt served as a counselor and camp kitchen staff member for the Tatev Eco-Camp in August 2005. She supervised preparations for lunch and snack and carried water from the local water source throughout the week. She also worked with other volunteers and their Armenian counterparts engaging students in nature activities and discussions. Topics included deforestation, clean water, predator/prey relationships, ethics, and awareness of the natural surroundings.
Mrs. Laura Holt facilitated a two-day Environmental Education for Rural Youth Program Volunteers Seminar to 24 adult and youth CARD (Center for Agribusiness and Rural Development) group leaders, and CARD and ATP (Armenian Tree Project) representatives in August 2005. The workshop provided the participants with environmental education curriculum to teach and techniques on how to teach students.
Mrs. Laura Holt has served as the Volunteer Action Committee (VAC) chairperson to address volunteer concerns to the Peace Corps Administration. She was the elected volunteer representative to participate in the Peace Corps Armenia Fiscal Year 2004-2005 Integrated Planning and Budget System (IPBS) to discuss budget allocations for current and new program initiatives in Peace Corps Armenia.