|Name:||Betsy Sergeant Snow|
Where do you work?
Menlo-Atherton High School
When did you serve in the Peace Corps?
Where did you serve (which country/countries)?
What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?
I was an English Teacher at a comprehensive high school, and I taught grades 7-12.
Is there a specific person (or persons) who made a strong impression on you during that time?
The Petrovi Family was my rock throughout my experience. Tanya Petrova was my counterpart, and she really welcomed me into her family. Her husband Plamen became my tour guide and photography mentor.
What was one of the most memorable moments you had as a volunteer?
Many of my memorable moments live on through the thousands of photographs I ended up exhibiting upon my return. One instance NOT captured in photos was when I missed a train on my way to the capital, right before COS. I started running to the train station, hitch-hiking simultaneously with the hopes that someone would give me a ride. The person who stopped was going to my town anyway, and he drove me all the way there. He then helped me get my two years worth of luggage on the train securely to head to the states. If it weren't for him I would have been in for a burearocratic nightmare! His generosity was something I'll never forget.
In what ways did your Peace Corps experience affect your life and/or career decisions?
The Peace Corps solidified my desire to be a teacher, and it sparked my journey as a photographer (I now teach photography!).
In what ways did your U-M education, both inside and outside the classroom, prepare you for your Peace Corps experience?
My Peace Corps experience was very much an extension of the work I did through my U-M coursework with Buzz Alexander's Prison Creative Arts Project, as I worked in prisons teaching Art for many semesters. My very first experience in Buzz's class, Discourse and Society, allowed me to teach darkroom photography to kids at Henry Ford High School in Detroit. This real life experience taught me how to learn from all experiences, graded or not. I also learned to really see people for who they are.
What advice would you give to others who are contemplating going into the Peace Corps?
Be flexible and open to challenges.
What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?
The invaluable lessons I learned from my time in Bulgaria boil down to appreciating perspective.
What lessons did you learn in the Peace Corps that you carry with you today?
Each day, as I enter my classroom, I try to remember that we all bring various perspectives to our present experience, and with patience and perseverance, we can make our world a better place.