At the top of the mountain with the ALMA ladies. Ecuador, 2005

Name: Melissa Foster Rietz
U-M Affiliation: Staff, Student

Where do you work?

University of Michigan Hospital, Women's Birthing Center Master's student in the School of Nursing pursuing a degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

2003-2005

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Ecuador, South America

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

Animal Production Volunteer, Assist with a Women's Cooperative

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

One of the women I worked with, Maria, was just an incredibly giving woman, a hard worker, and an incredible mother. She taught me a lot about the type of mother I wanted to be to my children; strong, self-less, and empowered.

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

Leading a group of young women into the mountains as part of the work I did as a leader of Camp ALMA. The look on their faces as we reached the top, as they fully realized what one can attain from hard work, was very powerful for me.

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

I volunteered with a medical mission while volunteering and made the decision that I wanted to be a nurse. I came back to the United States, went to school, and have been working as an RN for the past 3 years.

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

Always remember that the people you meet will teach you much more than you will ever be able to teach them.

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

A sense of appreciation for all that this country has to offer and an obligation to make these same opportunities available to everyone.

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