#SuccessStory: Max arrives; integrates easily and quickly

By Peace Corps The Gambia
Oct. 11, 2023

Max has been in The Gambia, serving as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer (PCRV) for just over three months. Arriving in May 2023, he began his two-week orientation, which focused on Peace Corps The Gambia’s (PCTG) in-country procedures and a brief overview of Gambian language and culture. Through his work with the PCTG staff over the course of those two weeks, he demonstrated resilience, commitment, and the flexibility necessary for success as a PCRV. He understood that his hard work during orientation would pay off in the months ahead.

Max moved to site before the end of the month – to an apartment in the back of a family compound on the outskirts of the city. Usually, PCRVs live independently in their rented accommodation, however PCTG adopted a new model so that Max would be able to engage with a host family to his desired degree. This model has been very successful, as Max immediately took to his host family and began sharing traditional Gambian meals and celebrating local holidays alongside them. Spending time with his host family has been one of the best parts of Max’s PCRV experience. He loves visiting other family members on a feast holiday like Eid Al Adha (locally known as Tobaski) or sitting together each day for a few hours after work. Moving forward, Max is eager to deepen his bond with his host family and is planning to take a week of Pulaar lessons with one of PCTG’s Language and Culture Facilitators.

At work, Max supports the Ministry of Agriculture, working primarily with the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) section of the Department of Agriculture. In his role, he is helping the department staff revolutionize their M&E framework and building staff capacity around data collection, processing, analysis, and management. He works routinely with the M&E staff and is seeking to hold campus-wide trainings with the support of the department. Additionally, he has found opportunities to contribute elsewhere at the Ministry, working with the National Seed Secretariat to support their M&E efforts. Work has provided another opportunity for cultural exchange, as Max has had the opportunity to learn about Gambian work culture and pick up some of the Mandinka phrases that are used around the office.

A quarter of the way into his service, the impacts of Max’s service as a cultural ambassador and capacity builder are already felt at home and at work. His efforts towards community integration and job performance have set Max up for success for the remainder of his Peace Corps service. Although living in the local community and working in a government department can present challenges, he has managed those issues with patience and adaptability. Moving forward, Max is looking forward to working with the Technical Services to increase his impact, as well as travelling to the Regional Agricultural Directorates that are dispersed throughout the country.

Peace Corps The Gambia is delighted to have Max supporting our work here in The Gambia. We look forward to hosting more PCRVs in the future!

Max with his host mother as they prepare to visit extended family on Tobaski
Max meets the Director General of the Department of Agriculture