This week curated by:
Charlotte Kenniston – UMBC Shriver Center Peaceworker Program
Two weeks ago, the US Peace Corps made the unprecedented decision to immediately evacuate all 7,000+ volunteers from their posts in 60 countries all around the globe. Peace Corps volunteers leave homes, families, and jobs in the hopes of building cross-cultural friendships and creating something sustainable and positive with the communities who adopt them. During my own time as a Peace Corps Volunteer over a decade ago in the small town of San Sebastián in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, I hunkered down with my neighbors and waited out an H1N1 outbreak. The friendships that I gained during that time and the lessons that I learned from my Guatemalan neighbors will stay with me forever. They taught me that family comes first, but that everyone can be family, that there is always space for laughter, and that a good pot of well-seasoned beans fills more than the belly.
These are lessons that I’m drawing on during this period of social distancing; I’m holding my family close (both physically and virtually), finding lightness where I can, and remembering that a good meal makes a world of difference.
Here, I share ten stories created by returned Peace Corps Volunteers about the lessons their Peace Corps service taught them.