At the African Cup of Nations

Laughing with some of my students

With part of the Odzeyem family

Name: Caroline Lai
U-M Affiliation: Alumni, Student

Where do you work?

Masters student at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

June 2007-July 2009

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?


What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

I taught mathematics to junior high school students.

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

Stella Odzeyem, my landlady. She acted like my surrogate mother, making sure that I was well fed, looked after me when I was sick and sat and was my companion who would talk to me about the things happening in the home, the community and around the world.

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

After serving in the Peace Corps, I have a huge desire to return to sub-Saharan Africa post-graduation and work at the grassroots level on poverty alleviation issues.

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

Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do it, because you most definitely can.

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

I feel like Peace Corps has given me a wider perspective of the world and the challenges that people face. I have come to really appreciate the small things in life that I have always taken for granted.

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

Things could be a lot worse. Always keep on laughing and smiling. You can do anything and everything you put your mind and heart into.

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