A New Adventure: I’m Joining the Peace Corps!

I’m excited to share my next new adventure – I’ve been accepted to the U.S. Peace Corps! After about 6 months of going through the application and then clearance process, it’s finally official, I will be volunteering in Liberia as a high school math teacher for 2 years!

Why the Peace Corps?

Volunteering with the Peace Corps is something that I’ve always thought I’d like to do and I realized last summer that there would never be a better time than now to do it! I like traveling and want to see more of the world and I’m excited to be fully immersed in a new culture. Volunteering and giving back to the community has always been important to me, and the Peace Corps combines both of these things – getting to see another part of the world and hopefully do some good in it!

Where is Liberia?

Liberia is in West Africa, along the Atlantic coast, and is about the size of Tennessee but with about 2/3 of Tennessee’s population. The official language is English, but most of the country speaks Liberian English so I’ll learn a little of it (more about Liberian English here!). There have been Peace Corps volunteers in Liberia since the 1960s, but during the 1990s, the program took almost a 20 year break due to Liberia’s civil war. The war ended in the early 2000s and the Peace Corps returned in 2008. Liberia continues to rebuild its infrastructure as much of it was destroyed during the war – that includes power grids, so I’m not anticipating having electricity while I’m there! The Peace Corps helps with the redevelopment, primarily focusing on education, as their education system was also left in rough shape following the war. So the ~50 of us 2-year volunteers going to Liberia this summer will all be teaching in middle and high schools with minimal resources.

You’re going into education??

When I applied to the Peace Corps, I applied open-ended to see what kind of opportunity I might get. Having studied business in college and worked in business for the last 6 years, I expected that they’d place me in the economic development sector so I was surprised when they wanted to consider me for an education role! Though I have no formal experience in education, the placement officer I interviewed with still seemed to think I’d be a good fit and said that they’d teach me enough to get started as a high school math teacher during training. I’m excited (and a little nervous!) for this opportunity and any tips or advice from my teacher friends would be appreciated!

So what’s next?

I have just a couple weeks to pack up my apartment, figure out what to pack in the 100lbs that I can bring with me, and see friends and family before I leave! Then at the beginning of June, I’ll leave for staging – two days in Washington DC getting a crash course on the Peace Corps and meeting the rest of my group – before flying over to Liberia (first a 7.5 hour flight to Brussels, then 9 hours to Monrovia, the capital of Liberia). Then for the first 3 months, we’ll have Pre-Service Training (PST) in a town about an hour from Monrovia. After that I will be placed in the school and community where I’ll spend the rest of my time in country.

Kathryn and I started this blog in the spirit of sharing our adventures so even though I don’t know how frequently I’ll have access to the internet, I plan to keep friends and family updated here, stay tuned!

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