Village in Kenya, homes made of cow dung.

The group of children that I spend my days with, learning Chichewa and teaching them English.

Name: Kate Guzman
U-M Affiliation: Student

Where do you work?

The Corner Health Center, Ypsilanti

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

2001-2003

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Malawi, Africa

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

Health extension volunteer, focusing on HIV/AIDS

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

My friend in the village, Kondwani Chimwenji, trained for an AIDS awareness marathon with me. He ran with no shoes until I gave him a pair of mine, which he cut out the toes on so that they would fit him. (He finished in the top five for the marathon!!)

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

I worked with a community group of volunteers on home-based care for HIV/AIDS patients. Another volunteer in a different region of the country was doing amazing work in this area, so I took a group of my volunteers to her site to learn from her group. Many of the volunteers had never left our village. One image that is forever imprinted in my mind is our arrival to Lake Malawi. My group had never seen such a large body of water before, and they lifted up their skirts/folded up their pants, and waded right in and started dancing in the water!

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

My next door neighbor was the village midwife, and she used to come get me at all hours of the night to help with deliveries. She was the greatest influence on my decision to go to Nursing School!

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

I was active in Project Serve in undergrad, which paved the way for my 2 years of PC service. Right before I graduated, I took a course in Grassroots Development, which was also a great way to prepare.

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

It is terrifying and intimidating, but just push yourself out of your comfort zone. It is worth it!

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

A world view that is hard to gain without really living in the life of a host country national.

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

I gained a sense of confidence that leads me in all my endeavors. I also learned to take my time and truly listen to what people are saying, before acting. I think this serves me well as a nurse.

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