Peace Corps Volunteers Share Halloween Traditions with their Service Communities

Peace Corps volunteers worldwide share American culture with the communities they serve, and Halloween is no exception. Below read how volunteers teach their communities about Halloween traditions.

Peace Corps Costa Rica HalloweenCosta RicaDuring a four-week English camp, Peace Corps volunteers in Costa Rica taught local secondary school students Halloween vocabulary words and had students tell scary stories to hone their English language skills.

“It was the first time most of these children had heard of or celebrated Halloween,” said Esteli Pacio of New York City, who served in Costa Rica from 2012-2014. “These activities got them excited about English and American culture.”

Recently returned Peace Corps volunteer Rattana Phon of Ann Arbor, Michigan, carved jack-o’-lanterns with her elementary school students in Costa Rica and taught them about trick-or-treating.

“My students might have learned about Halloween from TV or their parents, but they never had an American share their experience and knowledge about Halloween with them,” said Phon, a graduate of Beloit College who served in Costa Rica from 2012-2014. “These activities allowed my students to learn about American culture from someone who actually had experienced it.”

Peace Corps Halloween 2MongoliaPeace Corps volunteer Veronica Moermond of Cincinnati, Ohio, shared scary stories with her English language club in Mongolia to teach students new vocabulary words and improve their English comprehension skills.

“My students were hanging on to my words, both with suspense and an attempt at close listening to understand a foreign language,” said Moermond, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati who has been living in Mongolia since 2013. “At the story’s climax, my students just about jumped out of their skin before collapsing into fits of nervous giggles for about five minutes—seriously one of the best moments I’ve had while here.”

Peace Corps Halloween 3MoroccoRecently returned Peace Corps volunteer Samantha Ginsburg of Greenwood Village, Colorado, brought Moroccan youth to a Halloween carnival organized by her fellow Peace Corps volunteers and community members. The carnival was held at a youth club in southeastern Morocco and more than 120 children attended.

“The kids participated in classic Halloween activities like bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving and face-painting,” said Ginsburg, a graduate of Muhlenberg University who served in Morocco from 2012-2014. “The event was a huge success!”

This article was originally posted on on October 30, 2014.

13 Reasons To Join Peace Corps

Do you really need 13 reasons to join the Peace Corps? Just one should suffice, “It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.” If you do need more than one reason, here are 13 more.

1. You’re not the “typical American backpacker.”

You're not the "typical American backpacker."
Because the first things on your list are to learn the best Instagram spots and how to say “I love you” in your village’s dialect.

2. You want to experience something new … every day.

You want to experience something new … every day.Taking part in a traditional tribal dance? Dancing til dawn? Just another typical day.

3. … Including some great food.

... Including some great food.Try new foods, taste local delicacies and learn how to cook regional dishes. Not to mention, you get to shock your parents during your next phone call home; “I ate grilled ____ today!”

4. You want to make a difference.

You want to make a difference.Whether you touch the lives of hundreds of people or just one, you know your community won’t be the same after you leave.

5. Now you can choose a country or assignment.

Now you can choose a country or assignment.Want to put your college French classes to good use or pursue your passion for teaching? The excuse, “well, I won’t be able to choose were I serve” doesn’t fly anymore.

6. Learning a new language is awesome and saves you money.

Learning a new language is awesome and saves you money.During service you’ll learn to speak another language and discover the more fluent you are, the easier it is to bargain. The better you bargain the more money you save. … Just sayin’.

7. You will get the chance to meet some amazing people.

You will get the chance to meet some amazing people.Village leaders, young entrepreneurs, government workers, civil society leaders, athletes. Widen your circle farther than you ever imagined.

8. You’ll become part of the Peace Corps family.

You'll become part of the Peace Corps family.We understand your crazy stories, readjustment problems and why you hate goats so much.

9. Career skills. Career skills. Career skills.

Career skills. Career skills. Career skills.Just memorize this phrase: As an independent self-starter with extensive cross-cultural understanding and leadership experience, I am accustomed to working with limited resources to produce measurable and significant results. You’re welcome!

10. You’ll gain a new understanding of finances.

You’ll gain a new understanding of finances.You won’t get paid much, but you sure know how to make $100 last for weeks. And when you return to America, you’ll want to reuse EVERYTHING.

11. Graduate school discounts.

Graduate school discounts.All Volunteers are life-long learners, and Peace Corps helps support that commitment with grad school opportunities both during and after service.

12. You’ll have the best stories to tell.

You'll have the best stories to tell.You will one-up your parents’ “When I was your age …” life lessons.

13. You just might find a new passion.

You just might find a new passion.

Maybe being a doctor isn’t your thing anymore. Now you’re a development manager for a small non-profit specializing in eco-rehabilitation in a Sub-Saharan Africa. Hey, it could happen!

This list was originally published on October 24, 2014 on Buzzfeed. Find the original post here.

Wisdom Wednesday: Kathleen Green

This week’s #WisdomWednesday comes from returned Peace Corps Volunteer Kathleen Green (Nepal 1989-1991). To learn more about our programs in Nepal, visit Peace Corps Nepal’s website.

Peace Corps Nepal

“Before you go: Set out everything you intend to bring, and then pack only half of it; it’ll still be too much. ”

About Peace Corps/Nepal: There are currently 43 volunteers in Nepal working in agriculture. During their service in Nepal, volunteers learn to speak the local language of Nepalese. More than 3,675 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Nepal since the program was established in 1962.

Q&A with Dominican Republic Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Wake Forest Alum

Liz Haight, of Hilton Head, S.C., was a Peace Corps Health Extension Volunteer in the Dominican Republic from August 2012 to October 2014. She graduated from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Spanish in 2010. Why would she reccomend Peace Corps? Because Volunteers “serve,” not “help.” Haight was one of the 2 Wake Forest alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 211 Demon Deacons have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. Will you be number 212?

Peace Corps Dominican Republic

Haight (center) with members of her community in the Dominican Republic.

Q: What are some of your notable projects?
As a Healthy Communities Volunteer, my two main projects are to train and organize volunteer health promoters and youth groups in sexual and reproductive health. My main focuses have turned out to be family planning and HIV prevention. My secondary project includes a girls’ group and an income generation project with the health promoter groups.

Q: How did Wake Forest prepare you for Peace Corps?
 Pro Humanitate, ya’ll! My coursework and extracurricular activities helped me hone my interest in pro humanitate endeavors, but it was a Wake Forest summer service-learning course in Nicaragua that clinched it for me. After that I was determined to work in community development.

Q: Would you recommend Peace Corps to other WFU students?
Peace Corps service is what you make it. For me, it has been a great adventure and learning experience in development. What makes Peace Corps unique is that you live with your community. The key to the Peace Corps methodology is solidarity; throwing your lot in with someone else.

“Peace Corps volunteers ‘serve,’ not ‘help.’ Help denotes a paternalistic idea that we know what is best. PCVs work with community partners to determine what should be done and how. Without their help, PCVs cannot accomplish anything.”

Peace Corps Dominican Republic

Haight teaching in her community in the Dominican Republic.

About Peace Corps/Dominican Republic: There are currently 185 volunteers in the Dominican Republic working in the areas of community economic development, health, education and environment. During their service in the Dominican Republic, volunteers learn to speak the local languages, including Spanish and basic Haitian Kreyol. More than 4,390 Peace Corps volunteers have served in the Dominican Republic since the program was established in 1962. Explore job openings in the Dominican Republic.

On Our Radar: October 10, 2014

October 10, 2014               

ONE // Two Years Down, Two Months to Go

Angelina is the final countdown of her Peace Corps service in Samoa. As she met the new group of trainees that will replace her group, she reminisces on her arrival in country and how far she’s come in 2 short years.

TWO // Rise and Shine

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In the U.S., we have doughnuts, cronuts and cereal, but what does breakfast look like for kids around the world?

From fermented soybeans in Tokyo to hagelslag in Amsterdam, check out this photo essay! There is even one Peace Corps country on the list!

Malawi Peace Corps New York Times

Breakfast in Malawi. By Hannah Whitaker via New York Times.

THREE // How Studying or Working Abroad Makes You Smarter

New studies show that studying or working abroad means more than just a few cool stories. You will learn to think more complexly and creatively. Those multicultural skills help make links between different ideas. People who live or work abroad are also more likely to start their own businesses.

Looking for a way to work abroad? How about Peace Corps? Apply by October 15 to be abroad by next summer!

FOUR // Peace Corps applications surge amid recent reforms

We are making history! A record-breaking 17,336 applications were received this year. Will you be next to apply? Check out Washington Post’s write-up on our record breaking year.

FIVE // 33 Breathtaking Photos That Prove the Philippines is Paradise

Finally, it’s Friday, and we are dreaming of the Philippines. Thanks, Buzzfeed!

Philippines Peace Corps

Taal Volcano – Creative Commons / Flickr: deckchua (via Buzzfeed)

// Do you have any favorite Peace Corps blogs? Let us know in the comments!

Wisdom Wednesday: Sarah Reichle

This week’s #WisdomWednesday comes from returned Peace Corps Volunteer Sarah Reichle (Ecuador 2012-2013). To learn more about our programs in Ecuador, visit Peace Corps Ecuador’s website and explore their job listings

Peace Corps Ecuador RPCV PCV Wisdom Wednesday

“You will make tons of silly cultural and language mistakes during service. Be willing to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously. Use those funny mistakes as a bonding experience with your community!”

About Peace Corps/Ecuador: There are currently 116 volunteers in Ecuador working in the areas of community economic development, education and health. During their service in Ecuador, volunteers learn to speak the local languages, including Spanish and Kichwa. More than 6,135 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Ecuador since the program was established in 1962.

Arlington Resident, U Mary Washington Grad Completes Peace Corps Service in China

Russell Evans, 31, of Arlington, Va., has completed his Peace Corps service as an English Education volunteer and returned home to the United States in June 2014.

For more than two years, Evans lived and worked in the city of Guiyang in Guizhou province in the southwest region of China to teach English at the university level.


Evans (back; center) with students and friends in China.

“Guizhou University is located just outside the city in a district known for its pleasant streams and green mountains. The food is great and the people are incredibly friendly,” said Evans.

Evans’ work also involved leading a theater club in the Foreign Language department of Guizhou University. With the support of university staff, the club was able to perform a number of shows in English including West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet.

Russell Evans Tiananmen China Asia Peace Corps BeijingEvans (third from left) in Tiananmen Square with his theater group.

Evans said that he was constantly challenged and surprised by the new foods, places and people while serving in China.

“One thing I wasn’t aware of before coming to China was its diversity,” said Evans. “I had the opportunity to meet people from a dozen ethnic groups and teach students who came from all over China. The wealth of cultures, languages, communities, natural habitats, and historical sites is remarkable.”

Evans said that the main benefit of his Peace Corps experience has been the feeling of connection with his community.

“I looked forward to walking around my campus and knowing I’d see my students, knowing I’d see my fruit vendor, my fried noodles guy, or the lady who owned my favorite restaurant. It was a difficult community to leave.”


Evans serving tea in Qingyan ancient town, Guizhou Province.

Upon Evans’ return to the U.S., a visit to see his 92-year-old grandmother, whom he missed tremendously, was a top priority. After taking some time to re-adjust to life back in the U.S., he intends to pursue a career in the federal government or continue his education in Washington, D.C.

“Being a part of Peace Corps gave me my first experience with public sector work outside of education. I came to believe very strongly in the work that the United States does abroad. My goal now is to become a part of that effort,” concluded Evans.


Evans (second from right) making s’mores with members of his book club.

Evans is a graduate of Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va. He then attended the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va. where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish in 2005.  Prior to joining the Peace Corps, Evans worked as a teacher in Fairfax and Prince William Counties in Virginia.

Evans was one of the 267 Virginia residents currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 7,241 Virginia residents have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.

About Peace Corps/China: There are currently 143 volunteers in China working in education. During their service in China, volunteers learn to speak Mandarin Chinese. More than 905 Peace Corps volunteers have served in China since the program was established in 1993. Explore job openings in China.


A man using traditional fishing methods in Zhenyuan ancient, Guizhou Province. (via Russell Evans)