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?
A: 
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?
A:
 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?
A: 
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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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

Q&A with a Peace Corps English Education Volunteer, American University Grad

Alison Holt has been a Peace Corps English Teacher in Jordan since October 2012. She is currently a Peace Corps Master’s International candidate at American University studying TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Why does she think you should apply to Peace Corps? Because it’s not just a job, it’s an opportunity to build cross-cultural relationships! Holt is one of the 43 AU alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 942 Eagles have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. Will you be number 943?

Alison Holt Jordan Peace Corps Volunteer

Q: What are some of your notable projects?
A: 
I teach English in a secondary school for girls, tutor kids in English, and organize and teach summer camps. I am also currently working on a garden project at the school to teach the girls sustainable garden practices and generate income for the school.

Q: How Did AU prepare you for Peace Corps?
A: 
The Master’s International TESOL program gave me a great base of technical knowledge to succeed as a TEFL volunteer and English teacher trainer.

Q: How is Peace Corps complementing your Master’s International degree?
A: 
I am able to use the skills and knowledge I learned during my time at AU! I have felt completely prepared to deal with the teaching challenges I have faced.

Q: Would you recommend Peace Corps to other AU students?
A: 
Peace Corps is a big commitment, but it is completely worth it. I don’t think there is any other way that I could have had this experience. I’m not just doing a job, but building quality cross-cultural relationships and a better understanding of a culture that is so different from mine.

Alison Holt Peace Corps Volunteer Jordan

About Peace Corps/Jordan: There are currently 53 volunteers in Jordan working in the areas of education and youth and community development. During their service in Jordan, volunteers learn to speak colloquial Arabic. More than 560 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Jordan since the program was established in 1997.

On Our Radar: October 3, 2014

October 3, 2014               

ONE // As a Black American, Trip to Lesotho Enriched my Life

Bryon Williams checked off an item on his bucket list. He lived and worked abroad at the age of 23 as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

He offers up great advice on living and working in Africa. Hint: do what he did and don’t do too much outside research before! During his service, he wanted to let his perspectives be based on personal encounters and not preconceived perceptions from friends and families.

TWO // 36 Hours in Cartagena, Colombia

Thinking of a visit to Cartagena? New York Times created a 36-hour itinerary. If you fall in love with the country, think about staying a while. Apply by January 15 for our English teacher position in Colombia.

Cartagena Colombia

Video by Fritzie Andrade and One Glass Video on Publish Date September 10, 2014 via New York Times

THREE // The Environment Project

Peace Corps Volunteer Addy shared her environment project at her site in Peru. She emphasized interactive learning including a screening of “The Cove” and “Blackfish.” She ended her project with a Peace Corps world map mural and building new trashcans for the school.

FOUR // The Mandinkas

Time for your weekly history lesson! Peace Corps Volunteer Sebastian wrote an excellent post on The Gambia’s tribal majority—Mandikas. Learn all about their beautiful and rich culture and then apply to be an Education Volunteer there by October 15!

FIVE // Extreme Room Makeover: Peace Corps Edition

Ever curious where Peace Corps Volunteers live? Brooklynn shared a room update from her host family’s house in Peru! We love the all the personal touches and the DIY lamp she made with her host brother. We’re guessing that someone loves Pinterest!

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

St. Mary’s College of Maryland Grad Completes Peace Corps Service in South Africa

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 2, 2014 - Brandon Bimber, 24, a graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, has completed his Peace Corps service as a Mathematics Education volunteer and returned home to the United States in August 2014.

For more than two years, Bimber lived and worked in Entsikeni, a large rural village in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, to teach mathematics to Grades 5 and 6. Bimber said his host town sat in the shadow of a small mountain that has some indigenous forest and three waterfalls in the summer. His most successful project was starting a school library in his community.

Peace Corps South Africa

Bimber (center) with some grade 6 students in the school library.

“I managed to get the South African Department of Education involved in my project and they helped me secure a donation of 3,500 books and other learning aids for the library,” said Bimber. “Entsikeni is now the only school in the area that has its own library and teachers keep coming from other schools just to see the library.”

Peace Corps South Africa

Bimber (left) with students in South Africa.

Bimber said that the main benefit of his Peace Corps experience was getting to know his students and connecting with his community.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than watching a child’s face light up when they read their first story book or watching your principal cheer when he passes his typing quiz. It’s these interpersonal relationships that make the Peace Corps such a rewarding experience,” said Bimber.

Peace Corps South Africa

Bimber (top row; center) with his host family in South Africa.

Bimber said what he’ll miss most about South Africa is its diversity and culture.

“Eleven national languages, a multitude of different cultures, and the biological and geographical diversity make South Africa a truly unique country,” said Bimber. “I also brought home a traditional Zulu outfit along with a Zulu shield and beaded scepter that I was given during my welcoming ceremony in Entsikeni.”

Bimber graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Marys City, Md. earning a bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2012. After taking some time to re-adjust to life back in the U.S., Bimber intends to go back to school and eventually open his own veterinary practice.

Peace Corps South Africa

Bimber (left) presenting his school’s principal with a certificate of appreciation from Peace Corps.

“I never expected the amount of personal growth that came from serving in the Peace Corps. My service also made me realize the significance of the phrase ‘give a hand, not a hand out.’ Yes, giving is always good, but nothing compares to the effectiveness of getting involved and actively working to make a difference,” concluded Bimber.

Bimber was one of the 11 St. Mary’s College of Maryland alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 123 Seahawks have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.

About Peace Corps/South Africa: There are currently 134 volunteers in South Africa working in the areas of education and health. During their service in South Africa, volunteers learn to speak the local languages, including: isiNdebele, isiZulu, Sepedi, Setswana, siSwati, Northern Sotho, Venda, XiTsongo, Xhosa and Afrikaans. More than 1,210 Peace Corps volunteers have served in South Africa since the program was established in 1997. Explore open jobs in South Africa.