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Philippines

Grieving away from home, but not alone

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Tracy (Slingland) Asher ('82, Recreation) worked with the Ministry of Health in the Philippines on projects related to preschool education, sanitation and nutrition. Here, Asher (in the purple shirt), is giving a presentation on oral rehydration therapy to a group of midwives and other interested women in her community. | Photo by courtesy of Tracy (Slingland) Asher
Tracy (Slingland) Asher ('82, Recreation) worked with the Ministry of Health in the Philippines on projects related to preschool education, sanitation and nutrition. | Photo by courtesy of Tracy (Slingland) Asher
Tracy (Slingland) Asher ('82, Recreation) worked with the Ministry of Health in the Philippines on projects related to preschool education, sanitation and nutrition. Here, she's taking a break from a mid-service conference at Taal Volcano. | Photo by courtesy of Tracy (Slingland) Asher
Tracy (Slingland) Asher ('82, Recreation) worked with the Ministry of Health in the Philippines on projects related to preschool education, sanitation and nutrition. Here, Asher (in the pink shirt) is on a beach near her town of San Narciso with the the town's mayor and his daughters. The South China Sea is in the background. | Photo by courtesy of Tracy (Slingland) Asher
Tracy (Slingland) Asher ('82, Recreation) worked with the Ministry of Health in the Philippines on projects related to preschool education, sanitation and nutrition. Here, Asher (second from right) is with some of her friends at her going-away party. | Photo by courtesy of Tracy (Slingland) Asher

Tracy (Slingland) Asher (’82, Recreation) had been in the Philippines only a month when she learned her sister had unexpectedly passed away.

“I flew home, initially for two weeks, knowing I could choose to return to the Philippines, or stay home,” Asher says. “Through many conversations with my parents and brothers, we decided I would return to the Philippines because that is what my sister would want me to do.”

Asher worked with the Ministry of Health on projects related to preschool education as well as sanitation and nutrition, but she continued to wrestle with whether she was in the right place.

“I am fiercely independent but I had to learn it was OK to ask for help and admit I was having a tough time,” she says. She found that help in occasional collect phone calls to family, writing letters and getting mail from family and friends, and tearful conversations with a close circle of fellow Peace Corps Volunteers. She found peace spending time in a blooming mango orchard. She worked hard and became accepted as part of the community, enjoying such activities as her town's New Year's Eve dance in the town square.

“By the time it got to be a few months before I was to go home, I felt like I WAS home,” she says. “I got to feeling ‘No! My two years CAN’T be almost done!’”

Asher now works as a recreation therapist at Western State Hospital in Lakewood.