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73-Year-Old Peace Corps Volunteer Will Fight Bullying in Jamaica

01 May 2012
Smiling boy waving Jamaican flag (AP Images)

A Jamaican schoolboy waves his country's flag.

Washington — A 73-year-old American woman is on her way to Jamaica to help develop programs to keep Jamaican youth from being bullied.

Dorothy Burrill, of Marion, Massachusetts, will work with the Jamaican Ministry of Education to develop an anti-bullying program with schools and other community stakeholders that work with at-risk youth in the Kingston area, the Peace Corps reported.

“I’ve been in love with [the Peace Corps] since I heard of it,” said Burrill, who has three grown children. “I have six grandchildren. I can’t imagine children being able to flourish in an environment [with bullying].

“I love Jamaica and I love the people and I hope that we can make a difference. I hope that we can make it a countrywide program.”

Burrill will work with a local community center that provides counseling service to children, adolescents and their families to help establish an anti-bullying curriculum for troubled youth in the provinces surrounding Kingston. The new program will focus on strategies to keep youth safe and find creative ways to engage them in bullying prevention.

She will also help train educators and staff on the new curriculum to help build local capacity and eventually expand to other schools and community groups.

Burrill, who began her six-month service April 30, is the first nonreturned Peace Corps volunteer to serve in the expanded Peace Corps Response program, which offers short-term, specialized volunteer assignments. Historically, the program has been available only to returned Peace Corps volunteers, but a January expansion allows Americans with at least 10 years of work experience and the required language skills to apply for volunteer assignments.

A 37-year-old single mother when she started at Cape Cod Community College, Burrill went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Boston University in 1981 and a master’s in public administration from Harvard University in 1982. She later taught college-level economics, business and social science courses.

Burrill also helped open a women’s center and a transitional center for women and men, and procured $1.5 million in grants for education programs in her community.

More than 3,720 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Jamaica since the program was established in 1962, and 58 volunteers now serve in the country. They work in education, community and youth development, environment and agriculture and are trained and work in Jamaican Patois.