Spring 2020 Volunteers
In January 2020, three new volunteers joined Dani Da Costa, Karen Wiley, Anne Foley, and Mai Tran who returned from the previous semester. All of these volunteers have been living and working in Juticalpa to support Honduran staff in various capacities. Keep reading to learn more about the newcomers!
Mark Wessel, Strategic Advisor
Hello friends of Olancho Aid Foundation. My name is Mark Wessel. I have been working as a volunteer in Olancho since early January, 2020. I will be in Honduras until late March and then hope to continue to be of service to the organization from home in Pittsburgh. My primary role is to assist the staff and teachers of OAF with the development of a strategic plan. I am currently retired but spent the majority of my professional life at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. I taught economics and statistics and served in several administrative posts at the Heinz College of Information Systems Management and Public Policy, including over 10 years as associate dean and 5 years as dean. At various other points in my career I was an economist for the U.S. Department of Energy, a development specialist for the Mon Valley Initiative, and Senior Vice President for Strategy for the Regional Industrial Development Corporation. My wife Linda Babcock is still on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon. We have one daughter who currently plays lacrosse and studies economics and politics at Oberlin College.
Even though my time in Honduras has been brief, I want you to know that this organization is staffed by people who are smart, dedicated, resourceful and deeply committed to doing important work serving this community. The people of Olancho find themselves in a rapidly changing world that poses many difficult challenges for them. From a changing global economy, to dramatic impacts from climate change, to a harsh geo-political environment, to strains to the regional social and cultural fabric, Olanchanos face threats to the future of their families and community. Your support of this organization is vital to helping them build a successful future in the face of those challenges. Thank you for that support.
Christina Steiner, High School English Tutor
I am originally from Wichita, KS. Now I live in Lawton, OK outside Fort Sill. I semi-retired from the U.S. Army in 2015 after more than 20 active years of service. Now I am a homemaker, local volunteer and entrepreneur with three start-up home businesses.
I majored in journalism and minored in art history and Spanish in college. I attended Wichita State University, New York University and the City College of New York. I’ve worked in public relations, journalism and photography much of my adult life. I’ve published hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles and photographs worldwide, and a lot of my work can be found online.
Through the military and on my own I’ve traveled extensively around the world and I’ve lived in dozens of U.S. and worldwide cities, some in Central America. My hobbies include: working for myself, investing, reading, writing, traveling, hiking, swimming, skiing, cooking, volunteering, and most importantly spending time with my wonderful husband and our “pet children” — Rose and CoCo (our cats), and Willow and Tonka (our horses). I also like spending time with some family and friends.
I am happy and excited to be embarking on this journey with Olancho Aid and am honored that they chose me as a volunteer for the Spring 2020 semester. I’ll be working as an English tutor and I’m open to additional opportunities with this foundation.
Tommy Krug, PE Teacher at Nazareth School
Hey, I’m Tommy! I grew up in Dayton, Ohio and completed a Bachelor of Science in Physics at the University of Notre Dame in December 2019. I enjoy languages (Spanish, French, Russian), exercise, and most things you can call nerdy. College and research enabled me to travel internationally for the first times in my life, and a late night during my most recent trip encouraged me to look into forms of service more immediate than the Ph.D. in High Energy Theoretical Physics I am starting in Autumn 2020.
The Olancho Aid volunteer experience is exactly what I was looking for. I also have a brother and cousin on the Autism spectrum, and have volunteered with programs teaching such kids life and social skills. Because of this Autism awareness I’ve grown up with, I am the PE teacher at La Escuelita Nazareth, Olancho Aid Foundation’s school for 84+ children with varying talents and needs. I am thoroughly looking forward to spending the next four months of my life with the kids and people of Olancho!
Interested in serving as a long-term volunteer? Apply today at www.olanchoaid.org/ways-to-help/service-abroad/!