School Orientation

Cup of tea at one of the eight schools we’ll be servicing. From left to right: John, Annette, Tom, and Mike.

The four of us are serving in KwaZulu-Natal as education specialists/teacher trainers for 8 schools, a fun logistic puzzle (combinatorics friends, please chime in).  We are also housemates. Throughout the last 2.5 weeks, each of us has said, “I’m glad I’m not doing this alone, and I’m really glad it’s with the three of you.”  There’s a wealth of knowledge and experience here.  And I don’t have to worry about them leaving the seat up because, well, we don’t have a seat.  Please allow me to introduce you to the Three Amigos (Stooges?) and Maid Marian.

John Edmundson
Reminds Annette of:  Bob.  Not sure which, but I have an overwhelming desire to call him “Bob.”  Probably one of the curling Bobs.
Subject:  Mathematics
Previous Peace Corps Service:  Tanzania, 2007 – 2009; Liberia, 2012

  • BS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota
  • Teaching certificate, University of St. Thomas
  • MS, Mathematics Education, University of Minnesota

Previous occupations: Math teacher at middle school, high school, and college levels
Family: wife Randee
Superpowers:  troubleshooting South African electrical works; turning any moment into a teachable moment.
Joke:  Q:  Does a Peace Corps volunteer see the glass half empty or half full?
A:  S/he sees a week’s worth of bath water.

Annette Hynes
Subject:  Life Sciences
Previous Peace Corps Service: Kenya, 1999 – 2002

  • BS, Biological Sciences and Mathematics, and Natural Science teaching certificate, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • PhD, Biological Oceanography, MIT-WHOI Joint Program

Previous occupations:

  • Teacher-naturalist
  • 5th-6th grade math, science, and gym teacher
  • Postdoctoral research associate

Family:  parents, 3 sisters, 3 brothers-in-law, two nieces, and one nephew.
Superpowers:  crocheting like a spider; startling Tom.
Joke:  A snail glides into a car dealership.  
Dealer:  How can I help you?
Snail:  I want a little car.
Dealer:  Okay.
Snail:  And I want a big “S” on the side of it.
Dealer:  May I ask why you want a little car with a big “S” on the side of it?
Snail:  So when I drive by, people can say, “Look at that little S-car go!”

Tom DeFayette
Reminds Annette of:  Uncle Eddie Fisher
Subject:  Physics
Previous Peace Corps Service:  Botswana, 2011 – 2013

  • BS, Biology, Norwich University, Vermont
  • MS, Management, Florida Institute of Technology
  • Texas high school teacher certification, composite science, physics & chemistry

Previous occupations:

  • U.S. Army Colonel
  • Director, materials management, CVPH Medical Center
  • High school teacher
  • University lab manager, physics & geosciences

Family: wife Debbie, 3 kids, 3 grandchildren
Superpowers:  compassion the size of the entire planet; getting Annette’s jokes.
Joke:  A priest, a lawyer, and an engineer were sentenced to death by guillotine.  The priest stepped up, put his head on the block, but the blade got stuck on the way down.  “An act of God caused it to fail.  You must let me go.”  The lawyer stepped up, put his head on the block, and the blade got stuck again. “It’s against the law for a man to be sentenced to death twice.  You must release me.” The engineer stepped up, put his head on the block, and the blade got stuck for a third time.  He looks up at the guillotine and says, “You know, it would work a lot better if you re-did your pulley system.”  

Mike Messick
Reminds Annette of:  FBI Agent Gordon Cole
Subject:  Accounting
Previous Peace Corps Service:  St. Lucia, 1976 – 1977; Dominica, 1978; Swaziland, 2010 – 2014

  • BA, Northwestern University
  • MBA, University of Virginia

Previous employer:  IBM
Family: wife Gail, 4 kids, 5 grandchildren
Superpowers:  making connections; making things happen (particularly in rural Africa).
Joke:  A kangaroo walks into a bar.  He looks at the drink list and sees:  Beer:    $15, Wine:    $20, Gin and Tonic:  $22, Martini:    $25The bartender says, “We don’t get many kangaroos in here.”  The kangaroo replies, “Well, with these prices, I’m not surprised.”