A group of my students up in one of the villages belonging to my municipality (Santa Rita, Yoro, Honduras).

Here are some of the students I taught dental hygiene to. Thanks to Colgate for supplying me with toothpaste and toothbrushes, also in a village of the municipality where I lived and worked.

A team building activity (Escuela Francisco Morazán, Santa Rita, Yoro, Honduras).

Name: Clara Julien
U-M Affiliation: Alumni, Student

Where do you work?

In 2010 I finished my second Bachelor's degree. This time in Nursing and now I am entering into a Master's of Science in Nursing Fall 2010.

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

2006-2008

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Honduras

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

I was mainly a health volunteer but I worked on water projects and in schools educating children in literacy, sexual health and art.

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

There are too many to list. I am thankful for being accepted into the community I lived in. I am also grateful to all those people who recognized that I was away from my family and invited me into theirs.

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

I decided to teach an art/ecology class that focused on picking up garbage and discarded objects from the streets of my town. My influence was the readymade art of Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray that I had seen at the Indiana University Art Museum while I was an undergrad there. My town had no trash service so people had been throwing their trash on the ground the minute it was no longer of use to them. So I decided to teach an art class that would focus on awareness of the environment and its protection by teaching students to recycle the trash into art by making assemblages of readymade objects found in the street. After a few months I noticed more and more children were using the trash bins we had set up around the school and several mothers commented to me that their were not littering at home either.

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

Seeing how creative the nurses at my local health center were at using resources and providing care influenced me to pursue a degree in nursing. I started working towards a Bachelors in Nursing the day after I returned home to the United States.

In what ways did your U-M education, both inside and outside the classroom, prepare you for your Peace Corps experience?

Actually, my experience in the Peace Corps brought me to the University of Michigan.

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

Find out as much information as you can and contact at least a couple of current volunteers for information on what it is like to serve in another country. Also, be patient and persistent while waiting on an assignment. I also recommend volunteering prior to leaving for your assignment in a related area to the post you will be assigned to. And, finally, pack well!

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

I learned to slow down and accept life as a nice, enjoyable, productive path. I also learned that I ended up gaining more than I gave (at least that is my impression).

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

I learned that I have something I can teach and I have a skill set that is valuable and needed. I also learned that collaboration is fundamental to being successful in any given project.

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