As I look back at my journey as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I know I learned the true value of strengthening relationships, building trust, and cultivating cultural understanding. This experience also prepared me to take risks and adapt to new challenges in a post-covid world. But most importantly, I realized that the love and friendship we had was real. Although the seedlings from the tree nursery we had once built have now since withered, the seeds planted between my community members and I have flourished into a special connection that will forever be with me.
It’s been two years since Alyssa “Aly” Mashek heard the faint din of cowbells or the flapping of prayer flags in the Himalayan breeze. Due to the pandemic, she was forced to leave Nepal’s Dadeldhura region after only 15 months of service.
It’s 5:00 p.m. in Nepal’s mid-hill region. Hom Bahadur Thapa Magar stands in his verdant nursery after a long day of weeding the orchard, swaddling his plants in nutrient-rich manure, and cutting grass for his buffalo to enjoy.
I was raised in Japan in a bicultural household. My father is Japanese and my mother is Caucasian-American. I knew that my cultural and ethnic identity would play a big part in my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal.
In line with the Government of Nepal’s Curriculum Development Center, the Peace Corps Education Volunteers have begun collaborating with Nepali counterpart teachers to make and use instructional materials and activities that lead students to practice and apply language skills in meaningful, real-life contexts. Below are some examples of locally available low-cost and no-cost materials that Volunteers have designed and used in their classrooms.
With support from USAID Small Project Assistance (SPA), the Peace Corps Volunteer and community launched a nutrition and economic development program to increase the production, consumption, and sale of kiwi as well as other fruits and nuts.
I remember her smiling up at me one evening. The light was fading in the sky, and the Dhorpatan hills out beyond the village were turning blue in the gathering dark. The stars would be out soon, and maybe a moon. She laughed as she swatted the ox with a short stick, urging him into the barn for the night. “He is my husband,” she joked, slapping the black haunches again, “Isn’t he handsome?”
Everywhere, food brings people together. Participating in the daily rituals around food—whether growing, preparing, cooking, or eating it—is an essential part of the Volunteer experience in communities abroad. Here, Volunteers share the food traditions that made their service special.
My father’s story is one of those that defy the adage “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” He fell off his family tree in a small town in Michigan and then rolled. He rolled into the Navy at 17.
This is the first in a series of Q&As with returned Peace Corps Volunteers who identify as first-generation college students and/or new Americans. Learn how they navigated the challenges of the decision-making process and service abroad.