My birthday with local friends

My host parents and me

My dad and I at the local bazaar

Name: Natacha Chough
U-M Affiliation: Student

Where do you work?

Medical School

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

2003-2005

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Turkmenistan

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

Community Health Volunteer

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

My host mom. She was a physician and part of the generation that lived under both Soviet and post-Soviet political changes. The upheaval of everything she knew must have rocked her foundations.

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

All of it: eating boiled sheep face; drinking and dancing until 7am on New Year’s Eve; eating spitfire shiskebabs with fellow volunteers on my birthday; driving 14 hours through the desert to my site; discussions about political and cultural theories; having my dad visit me; loving, losing, laughing, crying, learning, teaching.

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

It helped me decide to pursue medicine in an international/wilderness capacity.

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

I attended UM after Peace Corps, but my Peace Corps experience attracted me to U-M because of its Global Reach office and projects.

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

It isn't for everyone. You must be extremely flexible, especially in your expectations.

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

So much, and much of it more personal (unexpectedly) than towards your community: lifelong friends, lifelong memories, and lifelong personal changes in character for the better.

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

You can't make anyone do anything. All you can do is educate them. What they do with that information is up to them.

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