PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

September 17, 2007

Peace Corps volunteer not assaulted

A Port Arthur woman serving in the Peace Corps in Mongolia was not the victim of a violent crime as was first reported by her grandmother last week.

Darlene Hernaez, the 22-year-old granddaughter, said she was not the victim of a crime and was not strangled or robbed.

Hernaez explains in her own words what actually occurred.

“An article was published erroneously about a minor incident that happened to me while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia. My grandmother, who is understandably overly concerned about my health, was quoted in saying that I was strangled and robbed; however I was neither,” she said in an e-mail to The News. “ I want to dispel these statements to ease troubled minds. The minor assault that occurred could have happened to anyone in any part of the world and though flattered at this attention given to me, I truly am not worthy of it. I am thankful for your prayers and concerns, but I am both physically and emotionally fine. I cause more physical harm to myself by simply walking in and out of my ger, a traditional Mongolian house, entry way, which even for a short Filipina as myself, I often forget to duck low enough. Even as I write to y’all today, I can feel the bump on my head from this morning’s literal run in with my doorway.”

“And again despite what my grandmother may believe, I am not risking my life being here. On the contrary, I am starting to live a life that many only dream of having. And though I have only been in Mongolia for a short time, it already feels as though I have been here a lifetime; I mean that in the best way possible. So I don’t have 24-hour stores, fast food restaurants, cable TV or a car, and I have to get water from a well, wash my clothes by hand, and live in a Mongolian ger and will soon be chopping wood and making fires to keep warm. Is that really so strange? To me it has become the norm, and it amazes me how comfortable I am living in such a foreign land away from my friends and family, but I am. And although my days are not always easy, as I am still adjusting to the language, culture, and lifestyle, to imagine my life anywhere else but here is beyond me.”

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