Where do you work?
Grad Student at Indiana University
When did you serve in the Peace Corps?
Where did you serve (which country/countries)?
What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?
I was a small business development volunteer and worked primarily with a co-op of batik makers.
Is there a specific person (or persons) who made a strong impression on you during that time?
I read the book "Miles from Nowhere" by Barbara Savage and was convinced that I could make it through my service, no matter how trying and difficult it was. This book had a profound effect on me.
What was one of the most memorable moments you had as a volunteer?
My parents came to visit me towards the end of my service and I decided to take them on a safari in neighboring Benin. En route to our hotel in the game park, the car we had rented broke down, forcing us to spend the night on the side of the road. My parents were very worried about all the wild animals and the prospect of being found, I slept peacefully all night long. It was then that I realized how much Africa had changed me!
In what ways did your Peace Corps experience affect your life and/or career decisions?
The Peace Corps made me appreciate life here in the US so much more. I am no longer as attached to my possessions as I was before, instead I value friendships and personal relationships so much more. I also am a much more confident person, after the Peace Corps there are many aspects of life that just don't seem nearly as scary as they once did.
In what ways did your U-M education, both inside and outside the classroom, prepare you for your Peace Corps experience?
My U-M education taught be to think critically and logically. These skills allowed me to solve many problems that I encountered in my work overseas. The quote by Bo Schembechler "those who stay will be champions" also motivated me nearly every day I was in Togo. It gave me the little push I needed to make it through the rough days.
What advice would you give to others who are contemplating going into the Peace Corps?
Joining the Peace Corps was one of the best decisions I've made in my life. It was also the hardest 2 years of my life. The most important thing when contemplating joining is to keep an open mind.
What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?
I learned how to work well under stressful, less than ideal circumstances. I have also become much more patriotic as I have realized just how amazing the United States is!
What lessons did you learn in the Peace Corps that you carry with you today?
I try to always keep an open mind.