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Havertown Native Heads to Panama with Peace Corps

“I chose the Peace Corps because even though I don’t know what I want to do, I know what kind of person I want to be,” says Alexandra Ondik.

Havertown native Alexandra Ondik will leave Tuesday for the Central American country of Panama, where she will spend the next 27 months. Where exactly she will be and what she’ll be doing she does not know.

And while that makes her a little nervous, it mostly excites her. “I love a challenge and am pretty curious about the world.” Along with her love of service, “the equation ends in the Peace Corps,” she said.

“It’s something that’s always been on my radar,” said Ondik, 22, who just graduated from Villanova University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and Spanish. She attended Merion Mercy Academy for high school.

She will spend three months training as an agriculture volunteer, and will then live and work in a community to help small-scale farmers with vegetable gardening, livestock management, agroforestry, and food security.

While Peace Corps volunteers get assignments, they are expected to pick up on projects that others have begun and to start their own initiatives. 

Ondik said she is hoping to do a lot of leadership, simple business and finance seminars for farmers to help them increase their business potential. She would also like to introduce people to her passions of yoga and running.

The Peace Corps requires a two-year commitment. She said her mom Liz was “a little nervous at first,” but her friends and family, like dad John and siblings John and Chris, “had seen it coming.”

“They’re happy for me because they know this is what I want to do,” Ondik said. In fact, “I’m looking forward to the simple living aspect. Some of the unknowns that hinder people actually pulled me towards it.”

For the next two years Ondik will be focusing on Panama and projects there, but she’s hoping that during that time what she wants to do next will come to her.

“I chose the Peace Corps because even though I don’t know what I want to do, I know what kind of person I want to be.”

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