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Peace Corps Volunteer
2 years, 3 months
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Up to 12 months
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3-6 months
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Shawn L.

“In 2020 when I found myself semi-retired, single and looking for something meaningful to do in my life, I decided to use my education, work and life experience to make a positive impact in the world and volunteer to serve in the Peace Corps.”

Man smiling at the camera.

1. What got you interested in the Peace Corps?

I first learned about the Peace Corps when I was attending University many years ago and I had a desire to serve, however life moved forward with family, and a career. In 2020 when I found myself semi-retired, single and looking for something meaningful to do in my life, I decided to use my education, work and life experience to make a positive impact in the world and volunteer to serve in the Peace Corps.

2. What projects are you working on?

I am working with an institute on the development of a new process to turn bamboo waste into biomass pellets that can be used for a variety of purposes, including clean burning cook stoves.

Volunteer and counterpart talking at a factory.
Shawn working with a counterpart.

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

There is a term in Timor-Leste called "La’o halimar," which literally means "walking play." I enjoy getting outdoors to walk and hike with others. This has helped me develop friendships with my host family and the larger community.

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

Because of the work that I am involved in with bamboo, I have the opportunity to visit bamboo community groups that are located throughout Timor Leste. I have loved being able to visit so many beautiful places.

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

I like that it is surrounded by hills and is close to the ocean. I do a lot of cycling and hiking on the weekends. I can ride my bike along the coast and enjoy the ocean views or go hiking in the hills and have a spectacular view of both the hills and the ocean.

Man wearing a backpack is sitting on top of a rock surrounded by greenery.
Shawn in the hills of Timor-Leste.

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

I have learned that it is important to spend time building relationships. Sometimes the most important thing you can do is to sit and have coffee together. Timor-Leste has great coffee.

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

I am involved with a hiking group that goes on weekly hikes in the area. This group includes local Timorese people as well as expats from various countries.

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

I want to make significant progress on our bamboo pellet production project. I also hope to assist my institute with some organizational development.

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

I will be less concerned with the various tasks at hand and more concerned with the relationships and experiences that can make my life more meaningful and rewarding.