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Volunteer Stories Archives

Peace Corps Response Volunteers are providing much needed targeted assistance in a breadth of assignment areas, from HIV/AIDS activities, humanitarian assistance, post-conflict reconstruction projects as well as addressing critical needs in the areas of education and technology. Read their stories below for a firsthand account of their Peace Corps Response experience.

  • Peace Corps Response Volunteers Support Program Development in Suriname and Strengthens Peace Corps Programming

    By LENNY TEH, Peace Corps Suriname

    PCRV Tom Sunchuk with Counterparts and boarding house boys, developing a Life Skills Curriculum at Stichting Engedi.

    Since its introduction to Suriname in 2010, Peace Corps Response has brought Peace Corps Suriname’s activities to a higher level. Traditionally, in Suriname, two-year Volunteers are placed in underserved communities who have limited access to resources and support available in the other areas of the country. At the same time, Peace Corps Response Volunteers (PCRVs) are placed in strategic organizations that provide project support to these underserved countries. More

  • Birth Attendants & Maternal Health in Malawi

    By LAUREN GOODWIN, Peace Corps Response Malawi

    Lauren Goodwin, a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Malawi, holds a friend's baby at Mangochi beach.

    According to figures released by UNICEF, a Malawian woman's lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 36; compare that to America's 1 in 2,100 and Norway's 1 in 7,600. High maternal mortality in Malawi is due in part to the fact that only 54 percent of deliveries have a skilled medical professional present. Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) fill the gap in rural, resource-deprived areas where maternal health facilities are not accessible. The use of TBAs has a tumultuous history in Malawi. More

  • I'm Never Coming Back…But

    By NATALIE MONTANARO, Peace Corps Response Tonga

    Maura Reap with her Peace Corps Host Family.

    Last week, I met a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer, Maura Reap, whose service in Romania, from 2003-2005, made such an impact that, try as she might, it drew her back into volunteering again, much like the hospitality of this country of Romania clings to your inner core and beckons you to remain just a bit longer in order to experience more of the old-world traditions, the amazingly rich countryside, and the warm groundedness of the people who reside here. More

  • Inclusion Takes Many Forms

    By LORIEN ANDERSON, Peace Corps Response Georgia

    Lorien teaches an English class using interactive games highly enjoyed by the students participating.

    I have had the pleasure of serving as an Urban Youth Volunteer in Paraguay, and as a School Social Worker in the Deaf Schools of The Republic of Georgia through Peace Corps Response. Knowing that so many children with disabilities go uneducated in Paraguay, I was intrigued to see what government funded boarding schools for children who are often left undereducated would look like. More

  • Lending a Helping Hand

    By AMANDA OWENS, Peace Corps Response Antigua

    Owens reads to children during story time at the library.

    The difference between my first assignment in Peace Corps and my second with Peace Corps Response is like night and day. Living and working in Mauritania, Africa is vastly different from working in the Caribbean. For one thing, the needs and demands of the community were not the same. Similarly, I felt that the challenges faced in Mauritania made my work in Antigua seem like a walk in the park. More

  • Library Development in Liberia

    By RUTHIA YI, Peace Corps Response Liberia

    Ruthia Yi, a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Liberia, helped several learning resource centers transition from paper-based systems to electronic databases and logs.

    Liberia was good to me. During my six-month service with Peace Corps Response, I met amazing people, learned some profound truths, and received warm acceptance and appreciation–similar to the treatment I had received during my Peace Corps assignment in Togo, the memory of which led me to apply to Peace Corps Response. More

  • A Lifetime of Learning

    By KERRY JOHNSON, Peace Corps Response Senegal

    Kerry Johnson, a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Senegal, trained teachers at a technical high school to implement a Junior Achievement curriculum.

    I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guinea and Niger in the 1960s, and am now a retired California educator. After returning from Peace Corps service in West Africa, I taught high school for 17 years and was a school administrator for 20 years. I taught hands-on vocational education classes and also worked as a career counselor. I enjoyed working with young people eager to learn how to enter the world of work. More

  • Marketing for a Cause

    By SHARON KELD, Peace Corps Response Armenia

    Sharon interviewed beneficiaries of the Millennium Challenge Account's irrigation project.

    As a Peace Corps Response Volunteer who partnered with the Millennium Challenge Account–Armenia, I had the opportunity to be placed in a unique position: I was involved in the business of the Millennium Challenge Corporation–an innovative U.S. foreign aid agency–and I also got to experience living and working as a Peace Corps Volunteer again. More

  • My Time in Jamaica

    By KATIA SIROIS, Peace Corps Response Jamaica

    Locals and Jamaica AIDS Support for Life during a HIV testing event

    In October of 2011, a few months after I completed my service in Botswana, the Caribbean ocean beamed bright blue as I landed in Kingston, Jamaica. Friendly Rastafarians sold mangos and coconut water on the street and the beautiful green tropical trees filled the island. I easily grew accustomed to the laid back "no problem mon" vibe. My time as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer was divided between two organizations—Jamaica AIDS Support for Life and EVE for Life. More

  • Nets and More Nets

    By GREGORY CLEMENTS, Peace Corps Response Malawi

    Before a mosquito net distribution can take place, health assistants must visit communities to ensure that all households are accounted for.

    As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I served in Malawi as a business consultant for a honey cooperative. This entailed training farmers to build hives, keep bees, harvest honey, and sell it to supermarkets in the cities. While my small business project with the Peace Corps was certainly worthwhile, I decided to join Peace Corps Response to respond to a more urgent challenge–helping to obliterate the global epidemic of malaria. More

  • Not Your Typical Teaching Assignment

    By MEG CARTER, Peace Corps Response Guinea

    Meg instructed a group of university professors on how to use the Microsoft Office product suite.

    At the age of 21, I moved across the world to West Africa to teach English at a secondary school in Saint-Louis, Senegal. Although I had studied French from 7th grade through my freshman year at university, I did not truly learn to speak that language until I served in the Peace Corps. And although I had traveled and studied abroad in Europe, my first real cross-cultural experience took place in the open air markets of Dakar. More

  • Peace Corps Response Brings it Full Circle

    By DENIS VIRI, Peace Corps Response Mexico

    I first joined Peace Corps after graduating from college in 1969, having been totally intrigued with the notion of international service ever since President Kennedy proposed it in 1961. in college I had aspired to have a mainstream teaching career, Peace Corps proved to be a catalyst and bonding experience that altered my direction and future goals and to which I would ultimately return full circle. More

  • Perspective From The Field: Education in Liberia

    By JASON BURNS, Peace Corps Staff Liberia

    Noble peace prize winner, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, talks with a Volunteer in Washington, DC

    Peace Corps Response Volunteers (PCRVs) served a pivotal role in re-establishing the Peace Corps program in Liberia when they re-entered the country in 2008 and then maintained a significant presence there during the last four years. Liberia remains a country of great optimism and promise even while in the midst of a significant reconstruction effort, and only nine years out after the end of one of the bloodiest civil wars in the history of Africa. PCRVs are aiding in this post-conflict reconstruction effort and helping Peace Corps pilot programmatic innovations. More

  • Portrait of a Response Volunteer on the Caribbean Coast
    in Colombia

    By JAY TOTTE, Peace Corps Response Colombia

    Jay and some of his students

    I certainly won't forget the morning I first made my way to the school where I was to work for the next year. I remember leaving the small, second-story apartment that I shared with a Señora and her daughter, walking down the quiet, potholed street, lined with the most exceptionally green mango trees alive with the sound of tropical birds flying to and fro. I passed a woman selling fresh bread from a basket set atop her head and an elderly man guiding a donkey-led cart full of coconuts and limes. More

  • Re-establishing a Peace Corps Presence in Guinea

    By PETER THOMAS, Peace Corps Response Guinea

    Peter Thomas worked with Guinean counterparts at Population Services International to develop a marketing plan for their health products.

    After starting up a conversation in Hausa with someone in Niger and telling them my name was Idrissa, one of the first things they would ask is, "You're with the Peace Corps, aren't you?" My assumption is that this is the type of reputation a program builds in a country where Peace Corps has had over 40 years of uninterrupted service. More

  • Serving the World, One Community at a Time

    By CATHERINE FABIANO, Peace Corps Response Panama

    Catherine presented a first place medal to a Special Olympics athlete during the Subprogram Games in Veraguas, Panama.

    It wouldn’t be a typical day for me without waking up to the sweet sounds of wild parrots, reggae music emanating from the rickety buses known as “diablo rojos,” or the view of ships bisecting the country carrying goods to other parts of the world. I could only be in Panama. This is where I work for the Peace Corps on a special yearlong assignment supporting the endeavors of Special Olympics Latin America. More

  • Shaping the Face of Arts Education in Benin

    By SARAH ELLISON, Peace Corps Response Benin

    Sarah Ellison, a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Benin, teaches art to children and local artists at the International Center for Art and Music in Ouidah.

    I must admit, I had forgotten how humid it could be... Unlike my first time joining Peace Corps, this time I knew what to pack-more cotton underwear, less socks, and fewer sweatshirts-but no matter what you bring, you're never fully prepared for what you might find. Coming back to the country of my original service has been incredibly satisfying. Benin-the small country in sub-Saharan West Africa that has been my home for nearly three years-is a nation full of joy, color, and welcoming people. More

  • The Similarity of Differences

    By GRANT EARICH, Peace Corps Response Antigua

    PCRV Grant Earich takes a short break from his work at Antigua State College Library

    In the over fifty years of Peace Corps history, I imagine that I am one of the only Volunteers that has served in both one of the largest and smallest Peace Corps countries. I originally served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine (2006-2008) and recently served with Peace Corps Response in Antigua and Barbuda (2011-2012). In the Ukraine, we had roughly 350 Volunteers; while in Antigua and Barbuda, there were less than 10.  However, I found that the size of the Peace Corps program only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the differences between these two countries. More

  • The Social Perspective: Peer Counseling in Demand

    By DAVID O’NEILL, Peace Corps Response South Africa

    Pictured are Country Director John Jacobi, Director of Programming Bridget Hughes, Luis X a PCRV (Pharmacist), David O'Neill a PCRV (Organizational Development Specialist), and Sandile Makhaye, Peace Corps Response Country Coordinator.

    The AIDS epidemic struck dramatically in many places around the world in the 1980s. Initially, it was thought of as a sub-cultural gay cancer or exotic African disease; it did not get the mainstream institutional attention it warranted until people who learned about it first-hand stepped up to use their knowledge to help form a productive direction for governments, medical institutions, social organizations and individuals. More

  • Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight

    By BRIAN WOODS, Peace Corps Response Georgia

    PCRV Brian Woods posses with HERA doctors and staff at his going away party.

    How does one define success? This was often a topic among Volunteers during my initial service as a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Volunteer in Ukraine. Like many of my peers, I dreamed of instant results, but I was pragmatic enough to know that I was playing the “long game.” More

  • Up the Chagres River

    By KYRA STENSLIE, Peace Corps Response Panama

    Volunteer Kyra Stenslie and some of the community members in the Embera village of Tusipono.

    During my Peace Corps Response service in Panama, I was warmly accepted and treated as a valuable member of my host community, just as I had been as a two-year volunteer in Paraguay. My experience serving in Paraguay was life-changing and certainly worth repeating. The fond memories and life lessons I learned from that original experience are what inspired me to apply to Peace Corps Response. I was excited to once again have the opportunity to utilize my teaching skills and share my enthusiasm for learning in a new and distinct part of the world. More

  • You Can Go Home Again

    By PATRICE KOERPER, Peace Corps Response Georgia

    Jay and some of his students

    I joined Peace Corps in 2006 at the age of 53, and found myself in a country very similar to my Eastern European-rooted childhood in suburban Cleveland Ohio. The attention to home-cooked food, religious traditions and the way people gathered and worked were so similar to customs I had grown up that during most of my stay I felt like I was 11 years old again -- listening to my mom and aunts as I learned to cook family favorites, watching my dad and uncles work, and walking out the door each morning to new adventures. More

Last updated Oct 30 2014

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