With students in Hungary

Back in Ann Arbor where it started. Still remember the info session when I went with my friend Eileen.

From Peace Corps profiles campaign (mid-1990s)

Name: Jeanne HuangLi
U-M Affiliation: Alumni

Where do you work?

UC Berkeley Haas School of Business

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?


Where did you serve (which country/countries)?


What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

English teaching, community development projects.

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

During that time, my grandmother passed away. She had always been an influential person in my life. I was the hard-working, successful volunteer I was perhaps because things weren't always idyllic during that time, but the meaningful work I was doing in Hungary helped get me through. "What will you do with your one precious life?"

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

I was the primary organizer for some major national English projects. I was just back in Hungary (June 2010) and it was wonderful to learn that the projects have continued to this day under host country nationals.

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

It has affected me in everything I do. It started me on a path working with nonprofits, working internationally, and where my strong project management and problem-solving skills are used. These are things I developed first during my Peace Corps experience.

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

Due to the strong history between UM and the Peace Corps, Peace Corps was always something that was an option. When I was finishing up my education at UM, Eastern Europe had just opened up as an region for Peace Corps. I was a double major (Asian Studies and creative writing/literature), but it was the diversity of experiences I had that placed me in Hungary --teaching English.

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

It you make the commitment and you do the Peace Corps, you will never regret it and it will enrich you every day. Even now, it is a constant touchstone (along with my UM experience).

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

It's given me the perspective to see alternative viewpoints and ideas. When things don't go as planned, I am resilient and resourceful enough to figure other options out. The skills, flexiblity, and creativity needed to survive and thrive in a different country in a Peace Corps setting is invaluable to the person I am.

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

I remember still a quote from my Peace Corps training book that I paraphrase--"it may be some consolation to you that the pains you are experiencing are undoubtedly growing pains." I would not say that every moment was idyllic, but my experience first taught me what I am capable of and also the type of work (fulfilling, creative) that would enliven me. It has been an ongoing challenge every since to continue to seek those paths in other work and experiences.

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