University of Iowa

Hear from University of Iowa graduates who are currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers! Monthly spotlights will shed light on the experiences of these alumni as they serve in locations all over the world. Stay up to date on their adventures and get a better idea of the work Peace Corps does. 


May 2018 Spotlight: Inspired"

Meet Samone
Samone has been serving in The Gambia, as a health volunteer, for the past 6 months. She is located in the North Bank Region of the country and primarily goes to the health center, schools, and to different family compounds to do her work.

By mid-April, Samone will have completed all of her trainings and will have the ability to start working on larger activities. Samone has completed a baseline assessment of her community and will soon be presenting it to prominent members of the community, as well as health professionals. While she was working on her assessment, she organized a small event at the health center where she taught young women, in 8th grade, how to make their own re-useable menstrual pads. This meant a lot to Samone because she was able to get to know these young women more and also teach them a new skill that will benefit them indefinitely.

Samone says the most challenging part of her service so far has been adjusting to cultural differences; from when meals take place to how she dresses and interacts with others. In order to gain respect from those in her community, she says she has had to change a lot about herself.

Though it’s challenging at times, I have developed a newfound respect for the values of those living in The Gambia and little by little, I’m able to share parts of my culture and who I am with them.

The best part of Samones service has been building relationships with her host family and members of her community. She says she is always grateful and open to learning about the different ways people live, work, and play. She is inspired by how often Gambians go above and beyond to take care of one another.

When thinking about the projects Samone can be apart of in the future, she hopes to improve waste disposal practices by setting up dumping sites in her community. She mentions that she lives in a town of about 4000 people, on the main road, and there is quite a bit of trash along the highway. She really hopes to decrease the amount of waste near the highway and throughout her town by teaching about composting, up-cycling, and encouraging the use of the dumping sites that would be set up.

To continue following Samone throughout her journey, check out her Instagram at: suhhmoan


 

 


March 2018 Spotlight: Celebrating Women's History Month!

"Motivated"

Meet Sydney

 

Sydney has been serving in Zambia, Africa for the past nine months teaching English. Within the Education sector, Sydney leads an afterschool reading club where she conducts lessons about the alphabet and letter sounds. The students also get to read books that a non-profit donated to the students. Sydney hopes to use these books to start a library at her school. Sydney also has an adult literacy club, where she teaches community members how to read, write, and speak English. Outside of her role in the Education sector, Sydney co-directs a boys camp, called Camp Brave (Boys Respecting and Valuing Everyone), where boys are taught about HIV, malaria, safe sex, and Gender-Based Violence.

 

Sydney believes one of the toughest parts about her service so far has been learning the language of her community and using it to teach her students English. Sydney is serving in a very rural post where not a lot of English is spoken, so when she teaches English classes it can be extremely difficult to communicate with students at times.

 

Despite the language barriers, Sydney says the greatest part of serving so far is the great people she has met:

 

“From the other volunteers, Peace Corps staff, and the amazing people I work with in my community.  I like that I have motivated people around me and people constantly support me in everything that I aspire to do.”

 

With a bit more than one year left of her service, Sydney hopes to build more classrooms for her school. There are currently only two for all the students in grades 1-7 and she teaches her 5th and 6th graders in a church. Sydney believes that: 

 

"With more school classrooms, our classes will not be combined, enabling better learning environments.”

 

To keep up with the awesome work Sydney is doing with Peace Corps, check out her blog at: https://africaawaitsblog.wordpress.com

 


February 2018 Spotlights: Celebrating Black History Month!

"Fulfilling"

Me
et Nyassa

Nyassa has been serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi since 2015. While Peace Corps is typically a two-year commitment, Nyassa has extended her service and is now serving for a third year; her first two years were spent in the education sector, while her third year is now in the health sector as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer. Nyassa is currently the District Coordinator for a USAID/PEPFAR funded program called DREAMS. The program aims to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS in adolescent girls and young women ages 10-24. A lot of what Nyassa does for the program revolves around coordinating and advising for 13 different nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)! Prior to working as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer, Nyassa served as a teacher working on a variety of projects, many of which focused on girl’s empowerment. Nyassa facilitated a girl’s club and had a school garden for girls in order to help teach them about nutrition and other life skills.

While Nyassa has been in Malawi for multiple years now, she says she hasn't face too many challenges throughout her experience. However, she does mention that having to switch her environment/job/housing/etc. after the first two years of service was a difficult for her. The transition from one reality to another has been challenging for Nyassa, as she considers herself a very hands-on worker who is now doing most of her work from a bird’s eye view. Nyassa describes this transition by saying:

 

“I went from teaching students in a very far and rural village in the southern region of Malawi to now working in a town where I am sitting at a desk most of the time.”

 

Although it’s been challenging, Nyassa says that overall the experience has been very formative and she is enjoying her new position a lot. As many Peace Corps Volunteers have said before, Nyassa also expresses how grateful she is for the relationships and friendships she has made throughout this experience.

 

“I feel everyone says that so it seems so cliché but it’s totally true. The people I’ve met, worked along side of, chatted with, and learned from have made my experience in Malawi that much more fulfilling and enjoyable. The bonds I’ve created here in Malawi will be ones that I take with me for the rest of my life and I will always be impacted by them.”

 

With seven months left of her service, Nyassa has been considering working for the Peace Corps at headquarters in Washington D.C.  or somewhere in the United States following her time in Malawi. Nyassa would love to see her professional path always come back to Peace Corps.

 

Nyassa has been featured in many Spotlights throughout her service, much like the video above! To read others written on her experience, check out these links:

https://www.peacecorps.gov/stories/what-do-you-wish-americans-knew-about...

https://www.peacecorps.gov/stories/celebrating-and-sharing-history-and-c...

http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/2014/12/19/ui-graduate...

 

"Love"


Meet Morgan

Morgan, a University of Iowa graduate with a B.A. in Spanish, has spent the past year and a half in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Morgan is serving in the Youth, Family, and Community Development sector and spends most of her time working with the primary and secondary schools in her community. She is currently co-facilitating programs of positive self-esteem, leadership, and sexual health for students in 8th-11th grade classes. Morgan is also facilitating a business program focused on entrepreneurship among 12th graders.

During the time that Morgan has spent in the Dominican Republic, she finds the most challenging part of her experience to be living in another place and within another culture. When comparing her experience in the Dominican Republic to her life in the United States, Morgan says:

“Sometimes it gets lonely and sometimes you are misunderstood. Sometimes you want to speak English and sometimes you just want a hamburger. Sometimes you want everything at your fingertips and sometimes you want everything to be instantaneous, just like where you’re from. Sometimes you miss your family and friends and all of the comforts of the United States.”

While living in another place and within another culture may come with challenges like the ones Morgan mentions, it can also contribute to some of your greatest experiences. The welcoming community members and the family that Morgan has surrounded herself with bring love and comfort to her time in the Dominican Republic. Morgan has the opportunity to embrace cultural customs that are different from those of the United States. She gets to meet new people, some of which she teaches, and some of which teach her. She mentions the neighbors who bring her dinner every night to show their appreciation for her and the children who spend every waking moment at her house because they are comfortable with her. When detailing these amazing moments of her service, Morgan beautifully says:

“Sometimes you consistently answer to a mispronunciation of your name because the word means love, which is what you hope to exude.”

While Morgan continues her work and explores her possibilities moving forward with the Peace Corps, she mentions the goal of holding an English class during the summer months for adults in her community.