1. Please introduce yourself
My name is Daviyion Johnson and I am a currently serving volunteer in Morocco with Peace Corps. Prior to this I worked at Penn State University in residence life. I have my BA in Interpersonal Communications and MA in Student Affairs and Higher Education.
2. What sparked your interest in joining the Peace Corps?
Honestly it was initially impulse
By that I mean there was not a lot of deep soul searching and thought provoking research before I applied. It just sounded like something fun to do next in life. In the weeks leading to my interview though I begin to reflect on my life and how blessed it had been up to that point (and still is!) and felt a desire to find creative ways to be a blessing/serve others and thus, Morocco
3. As black American traveler, what advice would you give to others inspired to join the Peace Corps but afraid to take the first step?
I’d say “it’s okay to be nervous about taking on new experiences, but just don’t let that concern keep you from pursing your dreams/desires. Peace Corps is going to be challenging for you in a way that others will “get”, but only you will understand. Face your fears and just try to enjoy the experience for what it is; A chance to be of service to others.” I’d something along those lines.
4. What are some interesting cultural exchanges you’ve had at your site?
Some of the commons ones at the beginning was just the shock that I spoke the local language. Because of the history of Morocco, French and French-speaking people are common all around and so to have someone come in as an outsider into my sleepy town folks naturally wanted to speak with me in French instead of Moroccan Arabic. It’s lead to some awkward funny and awkward sad moments in town. Sometimes people will assume I’m from Senegal, and not an American because I’m black and that’s the only place they’ve seen someone like me before, but typically I just explain my situation (in Arabic of course) and then the “Obama, Obama” chant began. lol
5. How do the people you encounter in country understand the life of black Americans?
I don’t know if they really “understand” the lives of specifically black Americans. My experience is they generally associate all Americans together in that we all know the celebrities of America, have lots of money, and have better lives (though depending on who you are talking to Germans have it better). On occasion, my students have made remarks regarding the stereotypes they see in American TV shows and movies were blacks are misrepresented or in negative portrayals as drug dealers and criminals.
6. What is one thing you know now, that you wished you were told before becoming a volunteer?
That Peace Corps is more modernized than you might think. haha. I definitely didn’t expect to have access to many of the luxuries that I have during my service. Now that being said, everyone will have very differing experiences so you just need to keep an open mind about your service, site, and experience.
7. Where can people get in touch with you if they have any questions (Leave your social media info and blog link if you’d like!)