A reporter and photographer, twenty-something David Frossard left for the Philippines to work for the Peace Corps building fish ponds where he spent 2 ½ years. “When I was little,” remembers David, “I used to see these late-night Peace Corps ads. There was one of a guy who was a fisheries volunteer walking on these narrow rice terraces. He gets to a pond and pours out a bunch of fish into this pond. Then you hear, ‘The toughest job you’ll ever love’. I saw that many times as a kid, and I thought that would be so cool. Must have been twenty years later I got sent to virtually that province in the Philippines to do exactly that job.”
Photo: Ginny Lee and David Frossard
In 1988, David returned to the US to attend grad school where he met his wife, Ginny Lee. The two returned to the same province in the Philippines and were married in a traditional tribal ceremony in 1992. “It was a four-pig wedding,” recalls Ginny. “We had a typhoon,” adds David. “Everyone said, ‘Ohhh, that’s good luck!’”
In 1995, David became a professor at the Colorado School of Mines, teaching Anthropology. Ginny later joined him, doing tech support in Information and Technology Solutions.
In 2003, both Ginny and David decided it was time for a change. They returned to what David had loved, the Peace Corps. They were sent to Zambia where they were asked to set up a freshwater tilapia fishery. “The second time around was much more fulfilling, because I knew how to do development,” says David. “Our project was a huge success.”
Ginny notes that the advantage of being a couple serving for the Peace Corps was that, “we had someone to speak English to, with each other. Volunteers who were single, you could tell it took a toll on them, not being able to communicate early on.”
The two stayed in Zambia until 2005, then returned to the School of Mines where David brought the idea of the Peace Core Prep program. He and a few others founded the program in 2016, and became the first in Colorado to offer undergraduates a chance to prepare to use and share their skills and knowledge to go into the Peace Corps. David recalls talking with his doubting students saying, “Peace Corps is super valuable. You come back and you’ve had international experience, you run your own projects in a different language. You are so far ahead of your peers, who are probably just in a back room drafting.”
Ginny was a valuable partner in recruiting students of color for the program. Ethnically Chinese, she understood the expectations and the sacrifices families made to put their children through school and expectations of jobs afterwards. She later received the Franklin H. Williams Award for community service and promoting a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
“The thing I liked best about teaching was taking students overseas, because it changes them literally,” says David. “A trip for a guy who has never been out of Nebraska or Colorado to go to China for a month so re-orients their thinking that they’re no longer scared of the world, they are a citizen of the world.”