Couples Serving Together
In the Kyrgyz Republic, where Brandon Lundberg and Elba Bermudez-Lundberg are serving as Peace Corps volunteers, they are novabrachnava. In France, where the couple met on a study abroad program through their universities, they are jeunes maries. In Elba's hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico, they are recien casados. And in Brandon's hometown of Durango, Colo., they are newlyweds.
This international couple recently celebrated their second year in marriage, and their fourth language endeavor.
However, undertaking Russian as a new language is not the only adventure for this young couple. Following Brandon's completion of his master's degree, and right in the middle of Elba's graduate work, both at Denver University, the two decided to join the Peace Corps. They were invited to the Kyrgyz Republic, and embarked on their journey in September 2003.
Brandon continues his work at the university level. However, this time he is a professor at Bishkek Humanities University, instead of a student, a status to which he had grown accustomed at the University of Denver, where he earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. Brandon teaches business English and courses such as basic management, international economic relations, and two international finance classes.
Elba works with the Central Asian Craft Support Association, which hosted the Festival of Peace and Respect to encourage understanding between former members of the Soviet Union.
For the couple, the Peace Corps is just one step toward accomplishing a long list of goals, all involving international service. Brandon aspires to join the Foreign Service after the completion of his Peace Corps service, while Elba hopes to attend law school or work on international development once she receives her master's degree.
Brandon and Elba both say their Peace Corps experience has helped them to grow–both as individuals and as part of a couple.
"I think the experience is just making us better people," says Elba. "Every day I can see how our relationship has just grown with going through this experience. I would never in my life have been able to experience [this growth] if I wouldn't have been doing this."
Brandon and Elba talk about the support system they have in each other during their Peace Corps experience. They both say it is nice to have a companion, someone to talk to after a tough day, or someone to hug when there is a language or cultural breakthrough.
Elba says having Brandon with her is much different than writing an email home, or writing emotions down in a journal. Serving as a married couple with Brandon means that she has someone with whom to share the same experiences, fears, and goals.
Over the past year, the Peace Corps has made it a priority to identify sites where married couples can serve. Currently, over 350 married couples, approximately 10 percent of all volunteers, have dedicated two years of their lives to the Peace Corps and serving others around the globe. This is a 26 percent increase in the number of married couples who served in 2003.
Peace Corps service continues to be a rewarding, enriching experience for married couples. In all cases, both spouses serve as volunteers and live and work in the same community.
Learn more about serving in the Peace Corps as a married couple.
Last updated Jan 22 2013