Volunteer Voices

Everyone’s Peace Corps experience is different. I want to pause from our own narrative to share some stories from my fellow volunteers, all of whom contributed to the Peace Corps Moldova Stories site. Most recently:

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Scott Ondap, a health education volunteer from California, described his experience serving as a godparent to the child of his adult Moldovan host sister. That’s Scott holding the baby at the baptism, together with PCV Ellen Kim.

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Hayley Guy, an English education volunteer from Florida, shared a funny but inspiring story about coming all the way to Moldova to overcome her anxiety about singing in public. She described how she unexpectedly found herself singing and dancing on a Moldovan television show.

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Haley Bader from Virginia and Danny Gottfried from Massachusetts (shown here) helped students highlight problems facing people with disabilities. My favorite moment in Haley’s lovely story is when a disabled young man bends a nail with his hands.

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Donna Barnes, a volunteer and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Howard University, helped organize a kite festival to raise awareness in her village about nutrition. She described how “we had singing, dancing, even a flash mob.”

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Claire Worley, a health education volunteer from Georgia, joined with other PCVs and local friends to celebrate Thanksgiving with foods and traditions from both countries. “It turned out to be the best Thanksgiving I have ever celebrated,” she wrote.

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The site has many other good stories, recently including Amir Feinberg’s heartfelt account of his first days as a new teacher, Rebecca Stuch learning to live around farm animals and Alex Bostian’s students forming a giant peace sign to celebrate the International Day of Peace. Grace Myers described how “every day holds a new small adventure for me” and Kaylin Stinski shared a recipe for veggie pizzas she made with her host mother.

As I explained previously, I’ve been assisting with editing these stories and some of the material on Peace Corps Moldova’s Facebook page, working with Liuba Chitaev and others..

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Beyond Moldova, the central Peace Corps Stories site shares the voices of volunteers worldwide. It’s currently highlighting the winners of an international video competition, including my own favorites from Cambodia, Guatemala and Guinea. Another great resource is the Peace Corps Worldwide site, which connects to dozens of books and other writing from returned volunteers.

As I discussed when writing recently about how I used Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech in a training workshop, we humans make sense of our world through stories. Peace Corps Volunteers have some of the best. Check them out.


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