Foster's Daily Democrat
April 24 2010

Barrington Peace Corps volunteer heading to Armenia

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cresta/Democrat photo Mary Ann Harty, of Barrington, is bringing a
jump rope with her on a Peace Corps mission to Armenia.

BARRINGTON ' Only about 6 percent of the Peace Corps' volunteers are
over 50 years old, and one of them, a 60-year-old local woman, is
heading for Armenia in May.

Mary Ann Harty said now is the time to pursue an adventure she has
dreamed of since childhood. She has no financial or personal
obligations and is ready to immerse herself in a new culture thousands
of miles away.

"It's the perfect time in my life to do it," she said. "I'm about as
free as someone who's just graduated college."

Harty knows she might be in for a bit of culture shock. The Peace
Corps sent her a packet with information she is to review before she
leaves on May 27 to begin her pre-service training as an NGO
(nongovernmental organization) development volunteer.

She has also started to learn the Armenian alphabet and pronouns,
adjectives, verbs and some common phrases.

Harty is also preparing for some harsh weather by stocking up on
socks, tights and winter gear. She is also packing a jump rope to keep
her heart rate up ' she has been told Armenia has brutally cold
winters, when the temperature will not climb above zero degrees for
weeks at a time.

At least for her, cold is better than hot: she said during the Peace
Corps interview process, they determine which places might suit the
individual by asking detailed questions about preferences. Harty said
she cannot stand intense heat and declined an invitation to travel to
Africa because of her aversion.

According to the CIA's World Factbook, Armenia gained independence
from the Soviet Union in 1991. The Middle Eastern country located east
of Turkey is slightly smaller than Maryland and features mountainous
highlands and fast flowing rivers.

Harty is heading to the country to help develop businesses. She has
experience in the manufacturing, service and software development
industries, as well as the financial, housing, nonprofit and retail

Throughout the years, she said she has also been involved in community
service, including with church and her daughter's school.

Harty is a Dover High School graduate and earned a degree in German
language and literature, with a minor in French, from the University
of New Hampshire in 1974. She spent her junior year in Austria, so
this is not her first extensive stretch abroad.

It is, however, her longest trip abroad. Her mission is for 24 months,
not including the three months of training. Since she spent a good
portion of her life in Oregon, her local family, including her
parents, Marty and Arlene, of Barrington, were slightly incredulous
when she said she was again leaving the local area.

"Initially my family said, 'You can't be thinking of leaving again,'"
she said. But over time, they realized, "It's very much in keeping
with who I am."

Harty said her major concerns are with the language barrier,
communicating with the outside world and the hardships associated with
living in Armenia.

"Truthfully, it's going to be an uphill climb," she said. "If I do my
homework now, I don't think it will be quite as intimidating."

Harty hopes the experience will help her enter into a career in
community development, either through the Peace Corps or a NGO.

"I am concerned, because I am 60. But right now there's someone who's
85 (serving in the Peace Corps)," she said. "I will certainly do my
best to make it work."

According to the Peace Corps, Harty joins 46 New Hampshire residents
currently serving with the organization. More than 1,512 state
residents have served since 1961.

The Peace Corps approaches 50 years of promoting peace and friendship
around the world with 7,671 volunteers serving in 76 host countries. rticle?AID=/20100424/GJCOMMUNITY_01/704249914/-1/F OSNEWS