Newport woman for guidance
By Richard Steffy, Staff Writer
Despite all of the world she has seen in her travels
something keeps bringing Nancy Walker back to Perry County. The
fourth generation citizen of Newport is preparing for another
trip to Africa where she will leave her mark then, as she always
has before, return.
"I have the world's longest umbilical cord,"
said Walker. "I keep coming back here."
Here, is a farm outside Newport where Walker does
international consulting. She also is a grant writer and substitute
teacher for the Greenwood School District.
Walker, actually Dr. Nancy Walker, has a Ph.D. in
agricultural and extension education. Her degree and her desire
to help others keeps her traveling to third world and underdeveloped
countries to teach teamwork, farming techniques and family planning
to native women.
The farm that will be Walker's legacy also is her
current home. Living with her parents, she has made the old pump
house her work area and sanctuary. African statues, baskets and
other woven goods decorate the area.
The artifacts are not exactly native to this region,
but the native who brought them here keeps in contact with the
people and the regions they came from. "To be able to reach
out from this little place and reach out across the world is
mind-boggling," she said.
Walker's trip will take her to Awassa, a town in
Ethiopia for three or four weeks. Her goal will be to teach native
women in rural areas environmentally friendly farming techniques
which ideally will increase food production and financial security.
Her responsibilities also will include nutrition education and
family planning, "so they won't be so overwhelmed with children,"
According to Walker, "Eighty to ninety percent
of agriculture is done by women." She said the men, formerly
hunters, now go to the city to find work, leaving the women at
home to tend farm and children. Her job is to teach the women
in Ethiopia how to determine their resources, and, "how
to involve people in determining their own destiny," she
Walker's destiny has taken her across the globe on
a mission of teaching and helping. At the age of 21, Walker,
a Newport High School graduate, got her first job as a teacher
in a fishing village off the coast of Newfoundland.
After finishing what she described as "quite
an experience," Walker spent six months in India with a
4-H exchange program.
Canada and India were not enough to quench her wanderlust. "I've
lived most of my adult life overseas," said Walker.
After her gig in India, Walker joined the Peace Corps.
She spent five years with the Peace Corps in the Philippines.
"I'm a real internationalist," she said.
Between all her travels to places like Uganda, Siberia
and India, Walker got her Ph.D. from Penn State. She also made
a family of friends, including a goddaughter in Uganda who bears
her name. "They call her Little Nancy."
Walker related a story, which most would only ever
see on the news. Uganda in the mid-1980s put Walker in the middle
of a war that left her a refugee in bordering Kenya for a month.
"We were evacuated by British military." During the
evacuation everybody and everything was draped in UN flags to
let people know not to shoot, she said.
However, the thought of entering a third world country
doesn't frighten Walker. "I'm more afraid of Harrisburg
than to go into these other countries."
Her years at the Peace Corps gave her the philosophy
with which she lives her life, and will continue to live reaching
out from her ancestral home.
The three objectives or goals of the Peace Corps
are: share technical expertise, learn about the country, and
allow the countrymen to learn about you and to bring back what
you have learned to the United States to share.