On March 1st, 2011, the Peace Corps celebrated its 50th Anniversary with celebrations around the world. Being a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I spent a few minutes on the anniversary listening to the speech John F. Kennedy gave at the University of Michigan in Oct 1960, when he first presented the Peace Corps concept. It was inspiring to listen to JFK’s enthusiasm and vision for the US to support other countries of the world.
From 2000 – 2002 I served in Madagascar as a Peace Corps Volunteer Community Health Educator. When I was going through the application process, their tag line was ‘The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love.’ It sounds so cliche, but for me and what I experienced, it was spot on. By serving in the Peace Corps I learned a lot of life skills. I became more confident, resilient, resourceful, creative, open minded and I met some of the most amazing people of my life. Not just from the US, but from all over the world.
One of Peace Corps’ goals is a commitment to coming back to the US and sharing the knowledge you obtained about other cultures with Americans. My knowledge was put to the test this weekend when I met a friend’s seven year old daughter to discuss her school project on Kenya. Even though my Peace Corps service was not in Kenya, I did spend time there once my service ended. I taught her a few Swahili greetings and showed her how women wrap their babies in cloth and carry them on their backs all day as they do their daily work.
The timing of my friend’s request to share African knowledge with her daughter was perfectly timed with the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary. Sharing my knowledge and experiences took me back to a special time in my life and reminded me of ‘The Toughest Job I Ever Loved.’
One of my favorite African portraits I took while traveling after my Peace Corps service.