Peace Corps Brings Couple Closer Together

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 12, 2006 When an injury prevented Erin Wilson from traveling to Kenya with the Peace Corps, she thought her chance at service and adventure was over. But only seven months after marrying Adam Wilson, the couple joined together and traveled to Morocco.

Erin, 27, and Adam, 28, agree that serving as a married couple, especially in a conservative country like Morocco, has many benefits. Rural Morocco is very traditional and has relatively strict social norms and gender roles. As a couple we were immediately accepted as a part of the community where single volunteers may have had a more difficult time, Adam said.

Newlyweds Adam and Erin Wilson in Morocco
Although Erin and Adam felt closer as a couple by serving together and were able to easily share their experiences, they also found there were challenges to being married volunteers as well. For example, Erin was often ignored when men were speaking to the couple, a sign of respect to the husband in Morocco, but a frustrating experience for an American woman. Likewise, Adam was often ridiculed for doing womens work, such as laundry or cooking.

One time two friends of ours came over to visit and I was doing laundry in a tub in the courtyard when they arrived, Adam remembered. After Erin and the woman went inside, the husband came up to me and asked in a hushed, almost embarrassed voice, What are you doing? Don\'t do that. It was like he didn\'t want his wife to see me doing something that he doesn\'t do.

Adam Wilson
While in Morocco, Adam developed a botanical field guide to the plants in nearby Argan Forest as a community forestry volunteer. As a health and sanitation volunteer, Erin worked in the local health clinic as well as organizing health education sessions in local schools. Together, the couple assisted in the construction of a womens center and encouraged eco-tourism in the region.

The couples most memorable experiences all involve interacting with the people of their small village in southwestern Morocco. Having the opportunity to live among the people they worked with everyday was very satisfying to Erin and Adam. By learning Berber, the indigenous language of Morocco, they were able to fully engage in the culture of their village, from attending association meetings and weddings to shopping in the local market.

Although there were some hurdles along the way, Adam and Erin recommend Peace Corps service to other married couples as a means of sharing a wonderful experience and growing closer simultaneously. Of course the decision to do Peace Corps is a difficult and extremely personal one, but based on our experience it has been a great way to deepen our relationship and has given us wonderful memories of our first years of marriage.

The Peace Corps has a 42-year history of service in Morocco, which is one of 17 predominantly Muslim countries that have a Peace Corps program. At the present time, there are 190 Peace Corps volunteers serving in Morocco. Currently, 20 percent of Peace Corps volunteers serve in predominately Muslim countries. To learn more about Morocco, please visit the Where Do Volunteers Go? section.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 45-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and a 30-year high for volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 182,000 volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 138 countries where volunteers have served. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. a 27-month commitment.

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