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Returned Volunteer Spotlight

Mark Seaman

Director of Development and Communications, Philadelphia FIGHT
Education: Bachelor's degree in political science from American University
(Niger, 2006–2008)

Mark Seaman

Mark Seaman directs development and communication for Philadelphia FIGHT, Pennsylvania's largest AIDS service organization.

Mark Seaman (PDF)

After his service in Niger, Mark moved to Philadelphia to take a few graduate classes. Within three months, he was hired at FIGHT, the largest AIDS service organization in Pennsylvania, which provides direct patient care, testing, and education and conducts clinical drug trials. Mark will be returning to Africa this year to visit a FIGHT sister clinic in Ghana to train community leaders on HIV stigma reduction and the importance of treatment.

About his Peace Corps service:
In my first year of service, I was a Community and Youth Education Volunteer in the "bush" of south central Niger. I worked with the secondary school district and local leaders around the importance of young girls' empowerment. I met with parents to convince them to let their daughters go to school, hosted girls' empowerment projects, and conducted teacher trainings. In my second year, I was a Community Health Agent in the capital city, Niamey. There I worked to ensure that Volunteers had the resources they needed to conduct HIV prevention and education campaigns, and was responsible for sharing the message of HIV awareness in the capital and with larger-scale projects across the country. We organized a 22-village bike ride for AIDS awareness, organized a nationwide English essay contest, and hosted the first-ever HIV Awareness Concert in downtown Niamey.

About his current work:
As the director of development and communications at Philadelphia FIGHT, I manage corporate, foundation, and individual funding and marketing and public relations for our programs. I meet with funders and donors and tell them our story, communicate with the media, and buy advertisements. I love what I do. And while my degree from American University helped, Peace Corps is what truly prepared me for it.

What he learned in the Peace Corps:
You have to really get to know people before you can help them. Project implementation takes community buy-in, tough skin, patience, and, in Niger, countless cups of Arab tea. Rushing headfirst into a project without understanding the culture and environment you will be working in will lead to missed opportunities, greater challenges, and frustration. All of that can be avoided, and immense success achieved with a strengthened grasp of the real need.

Why he chose Peace Corps:
There was a TV commercial for the Peace Corps that ran in the '80s when I was a kid and it used the slogan "The toughest job you'll ever love." In college, I knew I wanted to do something "different" when I graduated: I knew I wanted to travel, to interact with people, and to work for something important. I thought back to that commercial and that slogan, wondering if it was just an effective campaign or if it was true. After my service I realized that it is absolutely true.

Last updated Jan 22 2014

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