Love and Life Abroad: Peace Corps Couples Share their Service Stories

February 13, 2015

Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet served with her husband, Steve, in Western Samoa in the early 1980s

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 13, 2015 – In celebration of Valentine’s Day, the Peace Corps highlights the unique experiences of couples serving together abroad. Currently, more than 5 percent of volunteers are serving alongside their significant other. Among all volunteers, 94 percent are single and 6 percent are married. The couples who share their stories below follow in the footsteps of Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer with her husband in Western Samoa in the early 1980s.

Indonesia

Peace Corps volunteers Theresa and Roy Simonson of Bethesda, Maryland, knew they wanted a change of scenery before retirement. They were looking for something different from their standard 40-hour work weeks. When their daughter came back from her Peace Corps service in El Salvador, they were inspired to apply.

“Being older than the average Peace Corps volunteer, we felt that we could bring a variety of experiences to our school sites and a different perspective compared to a 20-year-old volunteer,” said Theresa, who has been living and working in Indonesia with her husband since 2014.

The Simonsons are learning how to adjust to life as volunteers, which is something Theresa says requires a lot of patience. But they hope to inspire older couples like them to experience a different culture.

“We intend to tell people we meet in our travels all about Peace Corps and be unofficial recruiters,” Theresa said. “And of course tell them all about Indonesia.”

Dominican Republic

Peace Corps volunteers Caitlin Meyer Krause and Keegan Krause of Norfolk, Nebraska, both grew up with a passion for service. After finishing their undergraduate education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, they knew the Peace Corps would be a great option for them.

As education volunteers in the Dominican Republic, Caitlin and Keegan are working to improve the community’s elementary school. They have helped direct a math and Spanish literacy camp and built a school library.

“I am incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to serve alongside my husband,” said Caitlin, who has been living and working in the Dominican Republic with her husband since 2013. “Keegan and I have accomplished much more together in our work, and our relationship has grown stronger and stronger each day.”

Ecuador

Emily and Eric Aiken of Gastonia, North Carolina, joined the Peace Corps to promote sustainable growth at the grassroots level. Together they work to prepare high school English teachers to take and pass the Teaching English as a Foreign Language test. They also helped host an English camp where more than 300 children and 14 college students from their community practiced their English skills and engaged with the language in an exciting way.

“My husband and I wanted a way to travel around the world in a meaningful and interesting way,” said Emily, who has been serving with her husband in Ecuador since 2013. “Something that always has struck me about the Peace Corps is the emphasis on integration into the community. So far this has been one of my favorite parts about my service.”

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visitwww.peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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