“I was born in the Philippine Islands, but raised for 19 years in Port Arthur. I left there at three-and-a-half years old and my earliest memory is the plane ride here. I love traveling.”
Hernaez studied Spanish in high school and college and she hoped to land an assignment in Latin America. However, the Peace Corps had other ideas and sent her where there was a need.
The Peace Corps has worked in Mongolia since 1991 after the Communist government collapsed there and they adopted democratization and a free-market economy.
“I’ll be the 18th Peace Corps volunteer to go there. It’s freezing there and I’m not used to the cold,” Hernaez said. In fact, the capital city Ulaan-Bataar’s temperature sometimes plummets to -22 degrees.
Hernaez will be paid $24 a month, the average income of a Mongolian person. It does not sound like much, but it will go a long way in comparison to Mongolian currency. She hopes she can take some vacation days also to attend the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Summing up her reasons for wanting to join the Corps, Hernaez said she is “proud to be a Filipino and adopted by a wonderful country.”
“I was educated here and everyone shared those gifts so freely,” she explained. “It’s not an option for me. I want to be a beacon. I’m inspired to learn about the Mongolian culture and open my eyes more. I’m definitely going to miss modern conveniences like toilet paper, but I’m an adventurous girl.”