Ithaca College Quarterly, Summer 1998

A Sense of the World

 

New Horizons

Jamari Salleh graduated in 1971 with a major in Spanish secondary education. She took graduate courses in home and family life at Columbia University, at the same time teaching in a public high school in East Harlem, where she helped implement drug abuse prevention programs. But she had been interested for years in seeing her father’s homeland and had met Peace Corps recruiters at Ithaca College, so after about a year in New York she headed out for Melaka, Malaysia, as a Peace Corps volunteer. She lived and worked there for two years as a trainer of teachers and guidance counselors.

Back in the United States, she did recruiting work for the Peace Corps and later opened the first Peace Corps and VISTA recruiting office in Puerto Rico (also serving St. Croix and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands). She entered the Foreign Service in 1981 after taking extensive exams and undergoing security clearance investigations.

Salleh went to Managua in 1996. Well aware of the value of being bilingual, she and Blohm send their six-year-old daughter, Alejandra, to a Spanish-language school. From a previous marriage Salleh has a son, Jason, as well as daughter Aisha.

Salleh and her family are due to remain in Managua until July 1999. After that, they could go anywhere. There’s a bidding process for Foreign Service positions all over the world, complicated by the fact that Salleh and Blohm need to find two suitable jobs in the same place. That could be tough, but Salleh sounds cheer-fully open to whatever opportunities present themselves. Her first choice would be Malaysia or Singapore (besides Spanish, French, and English, she speaks Bahasa Malay). But Sydney or Barcelona would be nice, she says, or somewhere in Africa . . .

As for her mother, who saw so clearly that education was a way out of difficult circumstances? She now lives in Dallas and has visited her daughter in most of her postings abroad. "She has a passport," says Salleh, "issued by me."

 

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