My own Peace Corps journey began on October 7, 2009 when I and 22 others in my Peace Corps group landed in Samoa. A far-off South Pacific island with beautiful lagoons, swaying coconut trees and inland mountain peaks—its people and culture quickly welcomed us as we began our journey.
At the conclusion of our training, all Peace Corps Volunteers are required to be sworn in as volunteers and have the honor of reciting the very same oath that all U.S. Senators, House Representatives, Civil Servants and Soldiers take after their election or appointment. I took my oath as a Peace Corps Volunteer on December 8, 2009 and it was administered by the chargé d’affaires.
I will be forever grateful to the members of my Peace Corps group who were on the journey with me (15 of us would complete our 27 month service). They became friends and family. Only they understand the weird stories I have and can recall the ways in which we grew together.
And also, a debt of gratitude to the Peace Corps staff in Samoa,—both Americans and Samoan nationals—who worked quietly behind the scenes to assist all of us volunteers in making sure we were safe, healthy and well cared for.
My parents Les and Karen, my sister Jenny, my friend Katy, and so many other friends and family who sent letters, cards, care packages, and prayers helped make my journey possible. Without their support, I would not have found my way easily—if at all.
But the biggest thanks must be extended to my Peace Corps village and all the Samoan people who welcomed and loved me over the course of my service. Their love, patience, laughter and prayers allowed me to fall in love with Samoa, so much so that I continue to visit yearly and stay in touch with my former students, teachers, host families and friends. I even feel blessed to have had two families name their boys after me, and another by my surname. It’s a reminder that my time there had an impression, even if in some moments it felt like the days moved slowly and the work felt cumbersome.
So on this 60th anniversary of the Peace Corps, I am reminded that we are all in this world together. That none of us alone has all the answers and none of us alone can change the communities we live in. Rather, it is a team effort that spans near and far.
To my Peace Corps family around the world who were evacuated last March due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, I salute you for your patience and resolve these past months as all of you were cut short the time and experiences you wanted in your villages. Know that you are a critical part of the 60 year history of the organization and that Peace Corps Volunteers in the years to come will be reminded of your strength in times of great change, and how you honored your oath to your country.
Happy 60th Peace Corps!
I was fortunate to have a couple visits from members at Peace Corps Headquarters in DC visit me over my 2 years at post. This time was particularly memorable as the driver got the Land Rover stuck outside my house on a muddy slope.
All 15 members of Group 82 at our Close of Service Conference in September of 2011. It was my idea for us all to climb up on this coconut tree.
Peace Corps Conferences or Friday night visits into the capitol allowed volunteers to see one another and attend a movie, go to dinner, or just play Monopoly! Here I am with Corina, Cassie and Tiffany.