Indigenous identity and the Peace Corps

By Carey Bhojedat
Sept. 13, 2023

The Indigenous village of Santa Rosa, Guyana, where the rainforest meets the flooded savannahs and the winding Moruca River, is where Carey Bhojedat hails from. Carey's identity weaves together two distinct threads: his Indo-Guyanese heritage and his Indigenous roots. However, it is his upbringing in the Indigenous village that forms the core of his identity, grounding him in traditions, the wisdom of nature, and the close-knit embrace of his people.

Carey's path to the Peace Corps is a story of simplicity, contentment, curiosity, and stubbornness. His life is a symphony of contrasts, like two worlds colliding. The initial half of his existence unfolds in a remote Indigenous village, where he gains an intimate knowledge of his immediate surroundings, but little insight into the broader Guyana and the outside world. Imagine the culture shock that engulfs him when he embarks on his first journey to Georgetown at the age of 17.

Yet, it is these very qualities — simplicity, contentment, curiosity, and stubbornness — coupled with an indomitable spirit that propel him forward. Carey attributes his journey to the remarkable kindness he has encountered from people he has met along the way. This extraordinary kindness becomes the cornerstone of his path to the Peace Corps, far exceeding even his own expectations.

Carey often marvels at how far he has come, engaging in constant introspection and self-inquiry. He believes he has unlocked how the universe's guidance and blessings work for him. Carey understands that the universe charts his course along a path of simplicity and contentment, requiring patience and gratitude. He has been navigating life's intricate web in this manner ever since.

As a forester and environmental professional, Carey has spent most of his life working in forestry, mining, and environmental projects. While he functions effectively in an office setting, his deepest connection lies with the natural forest environment. Reflecting on his adventures in nature, which began with an exhilarating journey at the age of 13 with a group of boys, and many adventures thereafter that included encounters with wildlife, especially snakes and a close encounter with a puma, Carey has always felt that his awareness is heightened when he is in the forest, allowing him to embrace his adventurous spirit.

Carey dressed in traditional wear
Carey believes that Peace Corps Volunteers can inspire future leaders, much as the local teachers and Volunteers inspired and motivated him during his school years.

Within the Peace Corps, Carey manages the Environment program and works closely with Volunteers. In the Environment sector, Volunteers collaborate with primary school teachers to create innovative teaching materials and deliver captivating science lessons, both inside and outside the classroom. They foster youth environmental leadership through environmental/wildlife club activities, encouraging exploration of nature and cultural traditions while nurturing young leaders. Furthermore, these Volunteers engage with community members, raising awareness about local environmental issues and inspiring meaningful actions to address them.

Being a person of Indigenous Amerindian identity within the Peace Corps holds profound significance for Carey. In his work, Carey places a strong emphasis on closely collaborating with primary schools in Indigenous villages. He believes that Peace Corps Volunteers can inspire future leaders, much as the local teachers and volunteers inspired and motivated him during his school years.

Carey is convinced that through the commitment and dedication of the Volunteers they work with, the kindness and empathy they bring can have a profound impact on the lives of the children they serve.

As Amerindian Heritage Month is celebrated, Carey reflects on its meaning to him. To him, it is a time for introspection and envisioning. It is an occasion for deep introspection, a moment to honor his roots and envision a future where Indigenous traditions and knowledge flourish alongside progress. It is a reminder that, through simplicity, contentment, and unwavering kindness, one can transcend boundaries and make a profound difference in the lives of others.

Carey Bhojedat, a man of two worlds, believes he has found his purpose and hopes he can, in whatever small way, continue to contribute to the development of Indigenous people in Guyana. His journey to date stands as a testament to the power of simplicity, contentment, and the enduring spirit of curiosity and kindness.

Carey in front of Guyanese flag