With my students my last day at school

with Ritah, the daughter of the librarian at my school

Name: Vinay D'Souza
U-M Affiliation: Alumni

Where do you work?

Currently job searching after returning from PC in April 2010

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

2008-2010

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Uganda

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

Secondary School Math Teacher

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

Yes, Issa. He was a Ugandan that became a good friend and I found that I could count on him.

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

One of the most memorable moments was when a little girl I was playing with in my first couple months at site told another teacher that she wanted to stay with me. She had two parents and three siblings and I had given her nothing to that point and she wanted to leave her family and stay with me. At this point she was shy of four years. I was almost as attached to her as she was to me and that moment was one that hit me hard.

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

Well, I left a good job that I left during a relatively stable economy and now have come back during economic hard times and with a large degree of uncertainty of what is next for me. I likely will end up going back to doing what I did when I left, which was working in consumer products manufacturing.

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

My UM education was my first time living on my own and of course that is a good first step towards independence. Inside the classroom I gained enough confidence to allow myself to take a big risk and do something many think about doing but most fear.

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

Talk to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and determine whether it is right for you. Two years is a big commitment, but it can fit into life well at times of transition. Even if you are older, consider doing it after retirement. Also, I would advise you to get into as good of shape as you can because this will help you get through the stresses of Peace Corps, especially in the first few months.

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

A more nuanced worldview that is based more on experience than on mere conjecture and books. It may change how you think about the world or it may just confirm your thoughts, either way it is valuable to developing one's self.

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

Giving of time is far more important than giving of money, especially when those donations are given indiscriminately. I have seen giving indiscriminately can actually do more harm than good, whereas giving of time is less likely to cause a negative effect.

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