1. Please introduce yourself.
How to introduce yourself, without sounding like you are signing up for OKCupid? Here is my attempt. I am a recently Returned Food Security Peace Corps Volunteer; I served in rural Ethiopia and collaborated with key government officials and community members to establish a small-scale garden project with female headed households to improve maternal and child nutritional intake and conducted a five-week training for 73 rural women business owners that focused on basic business concepts, including budgeting, inventory, and competitive pricing.
I extended my service as a third year volunteer with Catholic Relief Services, where we conducted a disability inclusion assessment that analyzed the current living situation and inclusion of people with disabilities across the program, monitored implementation of health, nutrition and gender related activities, and responded to request for proposals for disaster risk reduction, health, and education programs.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, I am currently in DC working for the Program Development Coordinator for CNFA’s New Business Team by supporting the proposal process by developing expressions of interest and proposals, ensuring compliance with the procurement requirements of donor organizations, overseeing the proposal process from release to submission, and recruiting qualified candidates for program implementation. When I am not typing away at my desk, I’m clinging to the rail attempting to ice-skate, taking salsa lessons, and singing in the mirror with a brush as my mic.
2. What sparked your interest in joining the Peace Corps?
To teach and to learn, that’s what I wrote in my application. I knew that some part of my life would involve working in the community and I felt like if I could work in a community here I didn’t know the culture, language, history and make a difference; then I could take those lessons and apply it to a culture wiith which I am familiar, know the history, language. I wanted to travel. I wanted to live in Africa, anywhere, and really know that country’s history; as a Black American you don’t have that linkage.
3. As a black American traveler, what advice would you give to others inspired to join the Peace Corps but afraid to take the first step?
Evaluate why you want to do it, write it down, and then do it!
4. What did you learn about yourself while living in Ethiopia?
PC will make you feel like you conducted a SWOT on yourself, I know my strengths, weakness’, opportunities, and threats (triggers). I learned how to fight for strength, positivity, and my happiness, I gained a different perspective about the world, learned I am a feminist, that so many things that seemed that mattered don’t, I learned who I am at my core, reinforced images of myself I already had, and challenged others that I believed, learned to identify myself for myself without others telling me who they think I am.
5. How did people (in Ethiopia) react when you told them you were a Peace Corps Volunteer?
Very fondly. I would meet people on hot bus rides that had a Peace Corps teacher from 50 years ago, 40 years ago and how Mr or Ms so and so (they always remembered their name) really taught them XYZ. Not everyone know what PC was, simply because we had to leave during war. But, those that did were always extremely excited. More people were surprised that I was not Ethiopian.
6. What is life like now for you as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer?
I’ve been back about 4 months. So hard to answer this question and express the various feelings. At times it feels like the two worlds don’t exist together. In other ways, I can feel the difference, feel how I’ve changed.
7. Can you share any advice for volunteers to remember on those days when they feel like giving up or Early Terminating?
Talk to your friends, use resources around you. Don’t remain silent, speak to someone.Think about why you joined, know if you are going through a tough period of time or if it’s a consistent feeling, reach out to PC sometimes it’s something they can help with. Many people have hard times in their service, and that’s ok. But, don’t be afraid to make the decision that’s best for you. There is strength in ending your service just as much as, if not more than, the strength in deciding to stay.
8. 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!)
Bnw0404@gmail.com don’t hesitate to reach out to me!