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Peace Corps teacher to share her adventures

Marge Pease was in her 70s when she traveled to Kazakhstan to teach at a business school.


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 18, 2003

TARPON SPRINGS -- Marge Pease grew restless in retirement. So, at 72, she joined the Peace Corps, went to Kazakhstan and taught international accounting standards and taxation at one of Central Asia's most prestigious business schools.

Saturday she will share her adventures at a meeting of the Friendship Force of the Suncoast, an organization dedicated to building global goodwill through personal friendships made during international exchange programs.

Friendship Force leaders hope Pease, 77, of Tarpon Springs, can help the group focus and expand its efforts in Central Asia.

"Several members have traveled to that part of the world," said David Grimm, the group's publicity chairman. "We hope to have a better understanding of the nation, and the customs, ethics, and ethnic workings there."

Kazakhstan, a nation of 16.7-million, is northwest of China. Principal languages are Russian, Kazakh and some English. The cultural mix includes ethnic Turks, Mongol natives and immigrants mostly from Russia.

"It really is a pretty place," said Pease, who started her service with the Peace Corps in May 1998. "There are beautiful mountains along the southern border, and also the eastern border which they share with China."

With 35 years in the accounting business, Pease was prepared for a professorship at the prestigious Kazakhstan Institute of Mathematics, Economics and Strategic Planning (KIMEP). The international accounting firm where she had worked assisted her efforts, lending the textbooks needed for her classes and opening up its library for her use.

She taught accounting and taxation classes at KIMEP, and remained in Kazakhstan until June 2000. While there, Pease also tried to encourage women to pursue accounting.

"I did try to portray that women make excellent accountants," Pease said. "Women are used to juggling three or four things at a time, and that's what makes a good accountant. A lot of the grandmothers there just watch their grandchildren and sit around, and I tried to tell them they could do it, too."

Pease was born in Manitoba, Canada. She worked in a war plant during part of World War II, and served in the Women's Canadian Army from 1944 to 1946. She attended several night schools before eventually graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in accounting. She then worked in New Jersey and Manhattan.

Looking for more to do during retirement, she chose the Peace Corps, which provided the adventure she needed. She celebrated her 73rd birthday in training camp.

"My sister asked me, 'Aren't you afraid of going all the way over there?' and I told her, 'I'd be more afraid of going to Texas,' " Pease said.

Pease's talk Saturday is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 10891 102nd Ave. N in Seminole. Admission is free and the public is invited.

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