Mamadi and I at home

My surrogate father, Ablai, and I have lunch.

Name: Peter O'Neall
U-M Affiliation: Alumni

Where do you work?

At Georgia Tech as a rowing coach.

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

2007-2009

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

The Gambia

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

Community development meant I wore many hats from computer training to beekeeping.

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

My friend Mamadi Jatta overcame a huge stigma being born by an unmarried mother in a small community. He grew to be successful, generous and lived without hatred. I admired his spirit and strength.

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

When I had to say goodbye.

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

I'll never be afraid to enter a new community and my interest in other cultures is stronger.

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

My experience on the rowing team taught me the determination needed to make a change, my English teachers taught me to understand the emotions as it happened.

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

Go because you are passionate about the work; expect only to face challenges.

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

A perspective that few Americans have or are interested in getting. Not one born of the fun international travel and the interesting cultural experience, but in living simply and working in difficult conditions because it is right. (As JFK said in his speech)

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

o respect others, but also to value your own efforts.

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