Larsen-Freeman in Nepal in 2007. Still enjoying an international career 40 years later!

Name: Diane Larsen-Freeman
U-M Affiliation: Alumni, Faculty

Where do you work?

English Language Institute; School of Education; Linguistics Department

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

1967-1969

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Malaysia

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

To teach English to students attending a government secondary school; to teach swimming

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

Learning from my students that American astronauts had walked on the moon several weeks earlier. We did not know anything about the mission until then.

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

My Peace Corps experience launched my career. During my service, I became fascinated with language acquisition. I decided to attend graduate school at U-M following my two years in Malaysia. I earned a Ph.D. in Linguistics at Michigan and subsequently became a Professor of English at UCLA. Eventually, I returned to U-M to direct the English Language Institute and to become a Professor of Education and Professor of Linguistics. I have had a very satisfying international career. I have had the opportunity to speak at conferences in many countries around the world--so far 70 countries and counting!

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

You will be in for the adventure of a lifetime.

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

To be comfortable with, and learn from, difference

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

Listen first.

Back to stories index.