Name: Anna Folsom
U-M Affiliation: Staff

Where do you work?

Biomedical Engineering

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

1996-1998

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Benin, West Africa

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

Rural Community Development

Is there a specific person (or persons) who made a strong impression on you during that time?

Alassane, of the local teachers and Adiza, a woman in my concession.

What was one of the most memorable moments you had as a volunteer?

It's always difficult to learn another language, especially one where there is very little in written form. One day a little girl asked me what happened to my pagne (sarong) because it had a tear in it. I replied, "My pagne is vomited" instead of "torn"! I couldn't figure out at first where she was staring at me so strangely...

In what ways did your Peace Corps experience affect your life and/or career decisions?

It gave me the opportunity to continue working in an international realm for a number of years afterward.

What advice would you give to others who are contemplating going into the Peace Corps?

If your goal is to truly accomplish something through the work you do, then you should find a Peace Corps country that has a very specific and effective program in that area. Otherwise the work you do may be quite general.

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

Gaining a deep understanding of how others live their lives day to day.

What lessons did you learn in the Peace Corps that you carry with you today?

How to live without power for many days (we get lots of power outages at my house!) and appreciating all the opportunities that exist in America.

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