Triplets bond at the outset of their shared Peace Corps journey

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By Brittney Nadler and Grace Morrissey
Aug. 28, 2019

Brittney Nadler and Grace Morrissey recently departed to Sierra Leone to begin their Peace Corps journey. The two women met at a local send-off event in Chicago, where they discovered an unusual connection: they are each a triplet!

During the event they went on to discover that their unusual birth was only one of many things they had in common. They share stories about their unique backgrounds and their respective paths to Peace Corps below.

Q: What did you think when you discovered that another Peace Corps Sierra Leone Volunteer is also part of a set of triplets?

Brittney: It was such a strange coincidence! When I first got to the send-off event I didn't see anyone else from Sierra Leone there. My family was about to leave when Grace's mom approached me and said her daughter was in my cohort. Our moms started talking and discovered that we are both triplets. Not only that, but we both graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; we were both in sororities; we both lived in Spain for a few months; we were born in the same hospital about three weeks apart, and spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit together; and we are both currently working with toddlers! In addition to meeting someone in my Sierra Leone cohort, I found someone I get along with.

Meeting Grace was very reassuring. It makes the whole Peace Corps experience feel more real in a way, because up until now I've only been part of Facebook groups and Skype calls with people I've never met. Meeting someone who's so similar to me makes me think: hey, this is real. We're doing this and here's another real person doing the same thing as me!

Grace: It was such a crazy moment because, as I'm sure Brittney can attest, you don't meet other triplets that often.

The fact that we are both going to Sierra Leone at the same time is just wild. When we found out we had been in the intensive care unit together, it was almost like we were aligned from birth and meant to go on this journey together. It's a really good feeling to go into this knowing someone and already feeling connected to them somehow. I'm sure Brittney will be a great resource and friend throughout my service.

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Grace Morrissey poses with her family after a family event.

Q: How was it growing up as a triplet?

Brittney: I definitely took it for granted growing up because it was so normal to me. I didn't realize how lucky I was to always have a play group until I turned 19. The first birthday I ever celebrated alone was in Panama during my summer break from college. To have all that attention solely on me without my sisters next to me was a little jarring. Growing up, my sisters and I had all the same friends and were known as “the triplets” or “the Nadlers.” We are all incredibly close and it has been so nice living at home since my return from Thailand, where I was teaching English. My two sisters are a great support network, and I know I can always count on them to listen to my stories, video chat with me, or send a care package when I'm missing home.

Grace: It's always difficult answering this question because I don't know anything different. Being a triplet means always being clumped together as a unit and sometimes losing your sense of individuality. It definitely means a lot of sharing but also means built-in friends wherever you go! Peace Corps is something I’m doing that sets me apart from my siblings. It's cool to have this unique solo experience that I will get to share with them along the way.

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Brittney Nadler takes a break in Thailand.

Q: What motivated you to join Peace Corps?

Brittney: My mom used to show me articles from Newsweek magazine when I was younger. In them I read articles about war, famine, and other international issues, but the one that stands out in my memory was about a young Yemeni girl who was forced to marry a 40-year-old man. She spent her days sweeping and tending to their goats. I couldn't fathom that someone about my age was living such a completely different life than me, and I wanted to contribute in some way. I began to search online for opportunities to work abroad and came across Peace Corps. I turned to my mom and announced I'd someday join the Peace “Corpse,” (pronouncing the “s”!), and almost a decade later here I am.

Grace: I was searching for a sustainable and impactful way to fulfill my dream of public service abroad. I have a passion for learning about other cultures, as well as education, so my position as a science education Volunteer in Sierra Leone is the perfect opportunity for me to explore both of those passions.

Q: What aspect of your upcoming service are you most excited about?

Brittney: I am ecstatic to connect with students again and form strong relationships in my community. I love planning fun games and activities for my classes, discussing my home life while learning about my students' lives, and being a resource for kids, whether academically or personally. Everyone wants to have fun, to have someone look out for them, and to grow. I am excited to utilize skills and experiences I've gained abroad to be the best I can be as a Volunteer.

Grace: I am most excited about living in a place in which I may be uncomfortable, isolated, and faced with many difficulties. As strange as that sounds, this type of situation can spark growth, and allow an individual to become more open, less judgmental, and more appreciative of the comforts we have in America.