Name: Mimi Chapman
U-M Affiliation: Alumni

Where do you work?

Ypsilanti District Library

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

1972-1974

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Tunisia

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

ESL teacher in lycees (high schools)

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

I learned the most from my students who were welcoming and curious about life in the United States.

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

I had a friend, a nurse, who agreed to be a conversation partner with me to help me learn to speak Arabic better. I was honored to attend her wedding before I left Tunisia. I was welcomed into the behind the scenes preparations open to women only.

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

I knew I wanted to make lifelong learning and cross-cultural understanding possible for average Americans. The public library is the perfect place for those to happen!

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

I attended graduate school at UM after my Peace Corps service.

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

Become as fluent in the local language as possible to really get to know people and have them know you.

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

Living abroad, especially in a developing country, is so broadening. Americans don't have the opportunities to easily learn about different cultures and traditions because we are geographically isolated compared with many of the rest of the world's countries.

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

It's valuable to step outside your personal experience and see the current and historical America through foreign eyes.

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