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Donor Feature Story: Sharon Lease

Donor Feature Story: Sharon Lease

By Sharon Lease (Gamma Tau, Oklahoma City University)

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." - President John F. Kennedy

As a young woman graduating from college, I was truly motivated by this quote from President John F. Kennedy. I wanted to represent caring, dedicated, hard-working Americans and to help improve the education of people who did not have the same opportunities.

Immediately upon graduating from Oklahoma City University, I joined the Peace Corps. My assignment was as a Primary English Medium Systems Supervisor (PEMSS) where my office was located in the Sareiki District Council Building in Sareiki, Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo).

In my program, I traveled to coastal and jungle schools training local teachers how to teach English in all subject area. As part of my role, I was required to figure out how I would get to each school site, what teaching techniques I would emphasize and how to build teams of mutual support and growth that would continue after my Peace Corps service ended.

These experiences helped to create the real, strong woman I am today. They helped formulate major aspects of my approach to service and leadership today.

While serving in the Peace Corps, I met my now husband, Kenneth Lease, another Peace Corps volunteer. We were married while overseas in an ecumenical wedding. My Malaysian boss acted as my parent in giving me away and in keeping with his culture, provided an umbrella to be placed over my head to prevent any undesired developments befalling me. We were married in the local Catholic Mission with a reception hosted by the Methodist Missionaries in the Catholic Sisters Meeting Hall, with many locals puzzled as to why they should toss good rice at us as we departed the reception!

Giving back or giving forward is crucial. It's one of the most important things we can do to help other another as it nourishes life and society. I am grateful to Alpha Chi Omega for building my foundation which has allowed me to serve others.