Peace Corps Imprints Lasting Memories on Faculty

Peace Corps Imprints Lasting Memories on Faculty

During a recent Ovation, members of our high school faculty shared their stories about their time in the Peace Corps. Peace Corps volunteers stay in their assigned countries for two years including training. During this time, our three teachers, Mr. Naylor, Mrs. Walsh, and Mr. Sommers experienced life-altering moments and learned lessons about culture, life away from home and the differences in environment and living conditions.

Mr. Naylor experienced the unfamiliar culture of the native New Guineans represented in their emotional expressions. Mr. Naylor shared two defining moments in the Peace Corps; these two instances were expressions of profound grief that revealed the exuberant release of emotion which is not as common to western culture.

Mr. Sommers also pointed out how familiar situations were unique and special in another country. Mr. Sommers two defining moments stayed with him because they represented both what he wanted to give to the community and what he hoped to get from it. The first experience was “Winning a grant proposal which allowed me to coordinate Peace Corps Volunteers and and my local friends to create a summer camp experience for orphans….  It was an opportunity to use my language skills, bring disparate groups together and help where it was needed most.”

Along with what Mr. Sommers gave, he also received a great amount from the people he met

“Celebrating Thanksgiving with my English Club students eating chicken, instead of turkey! It made my first holiday away from home easier and, strangely, has become my most vivid Thanksgiving memory even without the football!” reminisced Mr. Sommers.

Mrs. Walsh experienced something else. She saw the very different and sight of a country with little to no infrastructure. She tells of the shock and the beauty of her experience through two moments that defined her time in the Peace Corps.

“We were on an open bus and could feel the warm, humid air and smell the fires burning and all the wonderfully fragrant flowers.”

Along with the foreign smells she reflected saying, “We passed villages of houses called ‘fales’ which have no walls, so we could see all the people inside them.  They were sitting cross-legged on the floor laughing and talking.  Dogs and chickens were wandering around and the Southern Cross constellation was in the sky. There was no electricity, so small fires were burning and it felt like going back in time.”

The next day Mrs. Walsh experienced another life altering experience.

“The next morning was another awakening of the senses; seeing, smelling, hearing and tasting things we had never experienced before.  It was like in the Wizard of Oz when the film changes from black and white to color. The colors of the flowers, the fruit and the ocean seemed so much brighter than the ones from home. We met our friendly Samoan trainers and host families and I knew I was ready to begin my Peace Corps journey.”

Mrs. Walsh highlights the experience of the shock on her senses in such an unfamiliar environment. All of teachers said how much they loved the experience and would recommend it to anyone thinking about making an impact on others and themselves.

If you are interested in joining you must be 18 years old and an American citizen. The standard time of service is two years and you can apply to any area of the world. After serving, volunteers are well-equipped and qualified for any job. The experience gives a valuable resource for a resume.

Here’s a link to the Peace Corps website.