Okavango Brigade Men's Volleyball Team (2nd Place Finish at National Tournament; February 1996)

Vacation to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Bungy jumping over the Zambezi River.

Swearing-In Ceremony (Kanye, Botswana; June 1994)

Name: Todd Freier
U-M Affiliation: Alumni

Where do you work?

Chapman and Cutler LLP

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

1994-1996

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Botswana

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

I served as the business manager for the Okavango Brigades (a vocational training center) in Shakawe, Botswana.

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

My APCD, Daun Fest, and my Batswana counterparts (Seitseng and Esther) and many of my other colleagues.

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

My secondary project involved coaching the training center's men's volleyball team. Traveling with the team and placing second at the national finals was a wonderful experience. Also, simply sitting on the banks of the Okavango River in my backyard, reading and writing and listening to hippos and fish eagles and seeing crocs swim by... and having the occasional elephant or giraffe walk through my village... absolutely priceless!

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

I know cliche, but it truly gave me a great appreciation for learning about and experiencing other cultures. It also reinforced my personal philosophy that the greatest rewards in life come when we most challenge ourselves and step outside of our comfort zone.

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

UM's BBA program provided me with the technical skills to perform my work-related duties and responsibilities. My personal experience at UM opened my eyes to diversity and the value of reaching out and engaging and befriending those different from myself.

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

Just do it! Again I know cliche, but it truly was the most rewarding experience of my life. So much so that I intend to join the Peace Corps after I retire from my legal career (perhaps as an assistant Peace Corps director, country director or who knows, perhaps as a volunteer once again).

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

One of the numerous benefits of the Peace Corps experience is gaining world and cultural knowledge. Because of my PC experience, for example, I have continued interest in and follow southern African politics and have a vast world knowledge of cultures that most people (Americans particularly) could only dream about having. I lived and experienced the opportunity of a lifetime and am thankful that the Peace Corps provided me with that opportunity.

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

How to adapt. Also, realizing that all cultures have many valuable things to contribute to humankind and the more you expose yourself to them, the greater appreciation you have as a member of the human race and for life, diversity and culture, generally.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

One important thing to mention is that my PC experience provided me with the opportunity to form some of the strongest bonds and friendships I have ever had. Even today, nearly 15 years after I completed my service, my PC friends are still like family to me. The bond that is formed with other volunteers is unlike any other.

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