Profile: C.D. Glin
C.D. Glin Jr., a 1996 Howard University graduate, is one of the first Peace Corps Volunteers ever to serve in South Africa. Glin arrived overseas in February 1997, beginning his assignment as an education and community development adviser in a rural South African village.
"The opportunities here are really endless," he says. "When I go back to the States I can say I've been a community organizer. I can say I've been a teacher. I can say I speak another language."
Responding to an historic transition and the request for assistance from President Nelson Mandela, the Peace Corps sent approximately 30 volunteers to South Africa for the first time in February 1997. Glin was part of that groundbreaking group.
"As an African American, when I came to South Africa, for the first time in my life I was in the majority," he recalls. "I'm really helping people who look like me. People come to me speaking the local languages every single day because they really don't know" he is American. He marvels, "All of a sudden you're in a place where you're the majority and this personally can do a lot for you. You know we have minority status in the United States but we do have a lot of opportunities that the majority of people in some countries don't have, and so I really want to work in minority recruitment when I get back."
Glin sees his service overseas as an opportunity to show the world the diversity of his own country. "Maybe it's coming from me as an African American who lives in South Africa, one of the most racially divided countries in the world," he explains. "Maybe I can say now, no matter what your ethnic background is, you can make a difference. You're needed. You're needed in those other countries. It doesn't have to be Africa if you're African American, or Asia if you're an Asian American, or somewhere in Latin America if you're a Latino American. But anywhere, because you're offering a whole different perspective and you're letting them see another side of America."
He describes arriving at Foquani Village. "They saw me and they said, 'Oh not this one, he's not an American. He's one of us.'" Glin insists, "We have to show the rest of the world that America's not only white. It's not only black. There are so many other ethnic groups that make up America, so minorities getting involved with the Peace Corps, it really can show a more global, a more true picture of what America really is and what America has to offer."
Glin also is helping to broaden the horizons of students back home. From South Africa, he has been participating in Peace Corps' World Wise Schools program that links his African students to students at Marie H. Reed School in Washington, D.C. Throughout the past year, the students have exchanged letters with him and even communicated via a satellite hook-up during Peace Corps Day in March 1998.
In addition to helping others, Glin feels he is helping himself by acquiring new skills and experiences. "I want to encourage minorities to take advantage of the opportunities that Peace Corps does give you," he explains. "My interpersonal skills have developed tremendously. You're meeting new people every single day. The opportunities here are really limitless as to what you really can do and the impact you can have on people."
While minority recruitment is a special interest to Glin, he would "recommend Peace Corps to everyone," he says. "Whether you just got out of college, whether you're at mid-career, whether you're at the end of your career and prepared to retire. There's a role for you in Peace Corps. And I say that with the utmost sincerity. You can basically enhance whatever skills, whatever you've done by coming to a country, by doing, you know, work in the community, in the schools, small business development. Whatever your thing is, you really can find a place in Peace Corps."
With his service half over, Glin feels that his Peace Corps experience already has exceeded his expectations. "I mean, I've done so much. Worked with children, with adult literacy, with community development. Everything that I thought of, how I wanted to help my people, how I wanted to help African people, how I wanted to help disadvantaged people, I've done."
Of course, much remains to be done, "but it never really feels like work. Because you're going to enjoy what you're doing. You love what you're going through. You're helping people. You're working in the community, and people really appreciate you so much for every little bitty thing that you do."
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