I think most of the people checking this site know me, but just for old time's sake, for those that don't know me(though we can truly never know anyone-even ourselves) and to answer questions, I've written this page:
Hello. My name is Jessica Deanna Dold. I was born in Fort Bragg June 8, 1976. I grew up in Milpitas, CA with my mother, father, and one brother, David. Then my parents and I moved up to Pope Valley, CA two days after I graduated from High School in 1994. I went to St. Mary's College and graduated in May of '99 with a Bachelor of Arts in Integral Liberal Arts. I loved my college experience, and all the people I met there. They have helped me learn about myself and gain enough self confidence so that I am able to do such things as travel to an unknown world to live.
I joined the Peace Corps because I have always had a drive to volunteer. You get so much more out of the experience than you would if being paid. I slowly decided on teaching ESL. It started with an interest in linguistics. I started thinking about my senior thesis on Logos freshman year. Then I tutored(mostly drank tea and talked with) a Russian couple in Walnut Creek(my "Russian Parents"). I currently tutor three Spanish speaking women in English through the library. I love the interaction with language that teaching it as a second language provides. I'd wanted to be a teacher since fourth grade, but had been steered away from the career by my teacher at the time. I tried to have many other goals, but when looking for a college to study philosophy, I found Integral. It was my niche and is very supportive of producing teachers, or lifetime learners who can find solace and an ability to have some income by becoming teachers. I respected my teachers, in college and some earlier ones, and I only hope I am able to give so much to my own students.
I chose the Peace Corps because of the nice neat little package they provide. Other teaching companies didn't seem to offer the continued emotional, physical, and financial support. Peace Corps will allow me to travel to another world. I've always had itchy feet to travel. I will, and have a desire to, be challenged to my utmost. They provide me with educational, cultural, and language training the first three months while I get to live with a host family. This will allow for a gradual easing into the country, reducing the fumbling I'll do on my own. Throughout my service, and even when I return home, there is a community of support if I should need it. The thing I worry about the most will be the loneliness. It will be like dying of thirst out in the ocean. From what I've heard, the people in Mongolia are very nice, but I will be living in a fishbowl. Only after the first year will I feel like I'm no longer a complete outsider. Hence the information for you to contact me is provided.**hint*hint**
I didn't directly choose Mongolia. Peace Corps has an excellent interview process where they really get to know who you are. I expressed an interest in Tibet because of my college experience lacking direct exposure to Eastern thought, but I still was exposed to Buddhist ideas that I felt drawn to. My recruiter, Jean Ellisen, wonderfully enthusiastic woman, suggested Mongolia (which was not mentioned again until my invite). I think she was able to understand what I wanted, and what I could offer, and her knowledge was able to match me up with an appropriate host country. I went through a year of paperwork hell(ALWAYS keep copies of everything you talk about or send to anyone), where I thought I was going to Russia, missed the deadline, then floated in uncertainty. Near Thanksgiving I was officially invited to Mongolia. As I've learned about the country and culture I find it fits me perfectly. From the easy pace of life that one can't define but only feel, to silly facts such as blue being a Mongolian sacred color and my favorite color.
Some also ask why am I going anywhere. Why not stay home and work to help my own homeland? I believe in a universal community, and that by helping people on the other side of this small world I will be affecting my next door neighbors. I believe I have already affected many in my just planning to go. Many want to do such things also and feel reminded and encouraged by my actions. By reaching out to people I do not yet know, many amazing things happen to the defensive walls that people usually put up. It's like the new mother who has complete strangers coming up to hold her baby. Suddenly there is an interest in the world, and not one's immediate surroundings, when it's someone you know going outside the boundaries of America. Many people I talked to didn't even know where Mongolia was, but now many of those same people come up and ask me about the harsh winter they are currently experiencing. I know that my current way of thinking will be completely altered by what I experience overseas. I will still be the same basic person somewhere inside, but with so many doors opened. I will be better prepared to help my own country, which I have a lot of pride in, once I can see it from a new angle. A fish can't discover water. And recently we were shown how well an outsider, in this case British, could portray American suburbia in an interesting light in "American Beauty". I need to take a step back from the life I'm immersed in to gain a new perspective. All our knowledge comes from perceptions, and mine have American blinders.
And, yes. I'm scared. I'm nervous. I sometimes ask myself "Why am I doing this? Why am I leaving my comfortable bed, my hot showers, my friends...?" Then I think, it is only two years. My true friends will never be further away than my heart. The bed and showers have become routine and I don't appreciate them as much as I should. It will be two years to experience life with an unusual potency. To "burst Joy's grape against my palate" - Keats. I will be challenged to think in new ways that I can't even conceive of right now. I often hear from returned volunteers, and supportive people, that this will be an experience of a lifetime. All life is experiences, and I hope that this is only the beginning.
So that's me briefly. Leaving out much because this page will be accessed by family and friends. I don't want to bore or offend in either direction.
And I promise I'll ride a yak for my father.
photo by Michael Buckley
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Last Revised: May 4, 2000