Biology professors talks about Peace Corps experience

Brueggemann Marlene

After completing his master’s degree, Lawrence Alice spent two years in the West African province of Niger as a Peace Corps volunteer.

On Thursday night, Alice had the opportunity to share his experiences with a group of about 50 people who attended his presentation at Barnes & Noble Booksellers.

The lecture, which is part of the “Far Away Places” series, gave an overview of basic facts of the country and information about the geography and culture of Niger through slides, antidotes, artifacts and books.

Alice, a biology professor, joined the Peace Corps in 1989. After 11 weeks of learning about the country’s language and culture, he moved to the village of If?rouane, where he lived during his stay.

In Niger, Alice worked as a research biologist for an international conservation project in the A?r T?n?r? National Nature Reserve, the third largest protected wildlife area in the world.

Alice described his living conditions while in Africa. He did not have electricity or running water in his house.Water came from a well, and kerosene lanterns and flashlights provided light. His furniture was limited to a chair and a bed. He cooked on a gas stove and slept outside all year.

Alice said, despite the modest lifestyle, he enjoyed working in Niger tremendously.

The scenery and the beauty of the landscape, as well as the culture and the people, appeal to him, he said.

“Their friendliness and willingness to take you in are unparalleled,” Alice said.

But not all of his experiences in Niger were pleasant.

In April of 1990, an armed conflict broke out between a local ethnic group, the Tuareg, and their government. In February of 1992, six of Alice’s coworkers were captured. Four of them were released 13 months later, but two died in captivity.

But only the positive memories remain for Alice. Alice said he enjoyed digging up photos for the presentation.

The presentation has renewed his interest in going back to Niger, he said.

“I would kill to go back right now,” Alice said.

Owensboro senior Kendall Terrett said she attended the presentation for extra credit in her art history class. The presentation made her reconsider entering the Peace Corps after graduation, Terrett said.

“I’ve always wanted to experience another culture and be fluent in another language,” she said.

Two more presentations in the “Far Away Serires” are planned for this semester: Belgium on March 20 and Spain on April 17.

Herald reporter Lindsey Reed contributed to this story.

Reach Marlene Bruegglemann at [email protected]