Skip to main content
US Flag An official website of the United States government

Connect with the Peace Corps

If you're ready for something bigger, we have a place where you belong.

Follow us

Apply to the Peace Corps

The application process begins by selecting a service model and finding an open position.

Peace Corps Volunteer
2 years, 3 months
Log in/check status
Peace Corps Response
Up to 12 months
Log in/check status
Virtual Service Pilot
3-6 months
Log in/check status

Let us help you find the right position.

If you are flexible in where you serve for the two-year Peace Corps Volunteer program, our experts can match you with a position and country based on your experience and preferences.

Serve where you’re needed most

Nadirah R.

“Learning a variety of ways to cook food with my host family has been an easy way to connect, share stories, and learn more of the local language.”

Nadirah R headshot

1. What got you interested in the Peace Corps?

I originally heard about the Peace Corps from a friend of my mother who is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV); she served in St. Lucia while I was in high school. Since I loved to volunteer and support people within my home community, she thought the opportunity to do the same thing abroad would appeal to me. One of my main reasons for joining was to help Black people who looked like me further and improve their education. When applying to the Peace Corps, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to serve in Africa. I wanted to help others recognize that their dreams are achievable.

In the past I’ve had experience being in the classroom as a teaching assistant and tutor at my university. Although I never wanted to be a teacher, I am very passionate about education and have channeled that enthusiasm to support local children in Lesotho. I collaborate with my school counterparts to create other learning opportunities.

Back to school day_Nadirah Royer_Lesotho
On "Back to School Day" teachers dress up as students (and vice versa) to celebrate a shared joy of learning.

2. What projects are you working on?

My primary project as an Education Volunteer is to co-teach literacy in English and life skills to fourth grade students. I also co-lead three clubs: spelling bee, debate club, and grassroots soccer.

In addition to my everyday educational responsibilities, the local community and I are currently completing construction of a greenhouse for our school garden.  The garden was created many decades ago to help provide learners with healthy, farm-to-table ingredients in order to reduce malnutrition and support related programming. We wrote a grant to fund the greenhouse in order to protect the plants from animals and shade them from excessive heat. We acquired funding for this project through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, and construction started in March 2024.

3. What strategies have you used to integrate into your community?

The most useful tool for integrating into my host family and community has been food. As a Caribbean-American, I grew up cooking intricate dishes and baking pastries with my family. Preparing meals alongside others creates effortless bonding time.

When I first arrived at site, I decided to learn the different techniques and recipes that the Basotho have passed down over generations. My host family has taught me how to make staple dishes such as papa (corn porridge) and meroho (traditional vegetables like cabbage and spinach) in addition to baking bread by steaming it in a pot. Learning a variety of ways to cook food with my host family has been an easy way to connect, share stories, and learn more of the local language.

Our time together preparing meals has also given me an opportunity to share my own food traditions. Now I am able to cook dishes of Lesotho, and my host family can make meals that I grew up eating, such as macaroni and cheese and Cruzan stew chicken.

My host mother and I have shared secrets and laughs over cooking. We’ve talked our way through pancakes, stewed chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches, and beef patties. I’ve learned that sometimes the recipe for creating good relationships starts with a small wooden stick.

Nadirah cooks over a fire
Nadirah cooks over a fire in Lesotho.

4. What is a highlight of your time in service so far?

One of my most beloved memories from my service so far has been my fellow teachers’ support of my religion. I’m Muslim but I volunteer at a Roman Catholic-affiliated primary school. From the beginning, the teachers have been accommodating and respectful of my religion.

When Ramadan—a sacred month of fasting in the Islamic religion—occurred last year, I expected my counterparts not to understand what it was about. Instead, teachers responded with support and admiration of my religious practice. They seemed to feel that my fasting was a great testament to my personality and faith. Some teachers even went as far as trying to fast alongside me on school days to show solidarity. I’ve never experienced that kind of allyship from a different religious community.

5. What have you enjoyed most about the community where you are serving?

I’ve greatly appreciated the support that I’ve received from all members of my community: teachers, parents, community leaders, taxi drivers, and other partners in my village have always been there for me. They’ve shown support in simple ways such as gathering to discuss educational initiatives like Grassroot Soccer, but also in big ways like assisting me when teaching is difficult.

During my first year of service, I struggled with teaching. I often felt overwhelmed and stressed out. Managing a classroom of over 50 learners who sometimes didn’t grasp the lesson was hard. I heavily relied on my fellow teachers and their immense knowledge. Most of my counterparts have been teaching for 20 or 30 years. Some even taught my current students’ parents! However, the teachers and parents rallied to support me because they knew the kids would benefit if we all worked together.

6. What are some of the most important things you’ve learned from your community?

The greatest thing that I’ve learned is that things don’t always go as planned and if the community isn’t interested in something, it won’t work.

This lesson has been important for me to learn. Trying to implement something that stakeholders aren’t invested in is unproductive. My purpose as a Volunteer is to support my community with resources that will work for them, not me. In doing so, I’ve learned that even if I want to do something, I still need to connect with the local people to ensure the activity or project continues after I am gone. If I don’t, then the entire task is unsustainable, which means I shouldn’t be doing it.

7. How do you spend time when you are not working on a project?

I spend a lot of time reading novels when I’m not at school. As a child, I read a lot. But as I got older, life caught up to me and I didn’t feel like I had time to read. Now that my life is going at a slower pace, I have time to read again; it feels like reconnecting with my younger self.

Reading has also been a way to help me connect with friends back home. My college friends and I wanted a fun way to stay connected while I was serving and ended up starting a book club. We’ve shared many laughs and cries over written pages despite being 8,000 miles apart. A few of my favorite reads from this year are Seven Days in June by Tia Williams and It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover.

8. What are you looking forward to in your remaining time as a Volunteer?

I’m trying not to focus too much on the future but instead live in the present and enjoy my remaining year of service. Living in the moment helps me connect more with my community and appreciate the people around me. I know that I probably won’t ever be in a position like this again, so I want to take advantage of enjoying it while I can. I’ve also realized in the year that I’ve been here that expectations don’t serve me. I’m going to continue expecting the unexpected and enjoying life’s surprises.

9. Once you finish your service, what will you do differently when you return to the U.S.?

My service has taught me to be humble and place more value on the small things in life. It has allowed me to grow in ways I didn’t expect. Service has taught me to understand the privileges I’ve been granted. Americans don’t have to plan to catch the only taxi service in and out of the village because most own cars or can order an Uber. Most of us don’t have to be mindful of the water we consume daily; we know that when we turn on the faucet, water will flow. I looked at these seemingly simple luxuries with new eyes when I visited home this past September.

I feel grateful to my village and host family for showing me such kindness and hospitality as a foreigner. I've been able to experience a remarkable amount of love in a place far from where I was born. It’s like I’ve found another home.