Name: Danette Nolan
U-M Affiliation: Alumni

Where do you work?

Mojave National Preserve, Barstow, CA

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

1986-1988

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Togo

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

I worked with village-based cooperatives who marketed cotton for the Togolese government.

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

I recall how hard the work was, where all farming was done by hand. I remember how hard working the agricultural extension agents worked to assist the farmers. What struck me the most was how much the same values are across cultures -- family, health, shelter, prosperity.

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

New Year's Day was the one time in the year that all Togolese came together. They shared food and drink, and opened their homes to each other.

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

I learned who I am and who I am not. I realized just how little we need to survive and thrive. Most of what we have in the US is icing on the cake, but the essentials are very few and very simple.

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

I went to U-M after returning from the Peace Corps. U-M helped me to readjust to American life and the determine where I would go post-Peace Corps.

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

Peace Corps is NOT for everyone. It is an immense learning experience, and you will learn more about yourself than you will give to others.

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

A better understanding of who I am, a great appreciation for the Togolese people. I will always be a different person because of the Peace Corps.

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

Self-sufficiency, and respect for human dignity.

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