Name: David Swaney
U-M Affiliation: Alumni

Where do you work?

Montgomery County Public Schools, Silver Spring, MD

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

1987-1989

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Guatemala

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

I was in the Youth Development program, which helped organize opportunities for youth in rural areas.

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

My neighbor Anibal, who was maybe 11 or 12 at the time. He was so incredibly capable and handy. He gerryrigged a battery-operated light in my no-electricity hut. He could do anything with nothing!

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

I blew myself up with my propane stove and ended up in intensive care in the capital city for a month!

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

It was in the Peace Corps that I decided to become a teacher. I've been teaching high school social studies ever since! It was just clear to me that lack of education was the root of most of the problems I saw...and that is still true everywhere in the world, including right here.

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

Michigan is such a big and diverse campus, it really opened me up to a larger world and made me want to see a lot more.

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

DO IT! Take the leap of faith. Make the jump. Few regret it, and most say it put them on their present life course!

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

Appreciation for the way it really is in developing countries. It gives you a worldview that is much broader and inclusive.

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

Poverty does not mean unhappiness. People lead quality lives in all kinds of seemingly horrible conditions.

Back to stories index.