Community Economic Development Volunteer Benjamin D’Innocenzo took over our Instagram account yesterday from the Peace Corps country whose motto is Peace-Work-Fatherland. The home of The Indomitable Lions and Waza National Park. A place where you can enjoy local specialties like brochettes, sangah and ndolé. Have a guess? It’s Cameroon!
Check out his great photos capturing his Peace Corps experience – everything from weightlifting to business classes to fishing!
Check back soon for another new takeover from Asia. Where do you want to see a Peace Corps takeover from? Let us know in the comments!
We’ve been to Macedonia, Ecuador, Morocco and more. Now we’re traveling to Cameroon with Business Volunteer Benjamin. Check out his photos of Peace Corps service. This is #HowISeePC. http://bit.ly/1KrbjdA
Hi, I’m Benjamin D’Innocenzo. I’m a Community Economic Development Volunteer in Peace Corps Cameroon. I got my undergrad degree in art history and fine arts before moving to London to get an M.B.A. from St Mary’s University. After working in investment banking and attending school in London, I moved to Bangkok, Thailand where I finished my thesis on tourism as a tool for economic development in peripheral economies before departing for the Peace Corps in May 2013. #HowISeePC http://bit.ly/1FOxzX1
Fitness is a big deal in Cameroon. If you happen to be one of the early risers, you’ll wake up to a whole community jogging and doing calisthenics in the most unlikely of places. I worked with the guys at the hardware store in town to build these cement barbells. What started with me wanting some weight to throw around turned into a Peace Corps side project. I organized a group of a few guys and girls to workout 3 days a week and took the opportunity to host informal lectures on health and wellness. The interest was there, so why not! #HowISeePC http://bit.ly/1Jq5fiv
I had the opportunity to work alongside Madame Marie of COFTRAKOL in Bangangte, Cameroon. COFTRAKOL is a women’s shea butter cooperative working towards poverty alleviation through the sale of value-added products derived from shea nuts. With a complete product line already in place consisting of raw shea butter, citronella lotions and soaps, I worked to help establish new lines of revenue and more integrated marketing practices. #HowISeePC https://instagram.com/p/4jrrZZmZEF/
Traveling within Cameroon leaves endless opportunity for adventure. The beachside resort town of Limbe is a must see, and one of the most memorable places I have visited in this country. I enjoyed watching the fisherman on the beach, but had much more fun getting involved and learning some new fishing techniques. It’s all hands on deck when the nets have to be pulled in and, if you happen to be around to help, there might even be a fish prize in it for you. #HowISeePC http://bit.ly/1RQXtQI
The people you meet and the connections you make are truly what makes Peace Corps the most incredible work opportunity. #HowISeePC http://bit.ly/1HvWJ3U
“Nous sommes ensemble” or, in English, “We are together” is the phrase of the country and they really mean it! On days such as Women’s Day, the entire community will come out in troves of colorful clothing, laughter and joy to celebrate being together. #HowISeePC http://bit.ly/1FOyxCE
Cameroon is known as Africa in miniature, and hiking Mt. Cameroon, the highest mountain in Western Africa, will surely demonstrate the topographical variety in the country. Beginning in the jungle, moving into the forest and grasslands, and finally, ending on the lava fields, one can truly get a sense of the immense diversity of the country. #HowISeePC http://bit.ly/1Nt9IST
Working with people to help achieve their dreams is my favorite aspect of Peace Corps service. Entering Cameroon as a Business Volunteer, I had the opportunity to work with many farming groups, small businesses and individuals to help increase understanding of business concepts, streamline processes and increase profits. Every day is an adventure and a new opportunity to make a difference. #HowISeePC http://bit.ly/1C6bcSh
About Peace Corps/Cameroon: There are 205 volunteers in Cameroon working with their communities on projects in education, youth development, agriculture and health. During their service in Cameroon, volunteers learn to speak local languages, including: Pidgin English, Fulfulde and French. More than 3,560 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Cameroon since the program was established in 1962.
WASHINGTON, June 30, 2015 – Allison Clark, 24, of Pulaski, Va., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart July 1 for South Africa to begin training as an English education volunteer. Clark will live and work in a community to to teach English in primary schools and train local teachers.
“Over the past few years, I’ve felt very motivated to find a way to make a meaningful impact on our world. Also, I have always been eager to travel as much as possible. The Peace Corps has given me the perfect opportunity to combine those two goals,” said Clark of her desire to join the Peace Corps.
Two of Clark’s cousins, Clark Richter and Anna Goldberg, also served as Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines from 2008 to 2010.
“When Clark joined the Peace Corps, he was the first person I knew that was involved with the organization. As I began my application process last year, I reached out to him and Anna to hear more about their experiences. Hearing about the challenges and successes they encountered during their services heartened my desire to be a part of such an incredible group,” Clark said.
Clark is the daughter of Lynne and Don Clark, of Pulaski, Va., and a graduate of Pulaski County High School, in Dublin, Va, where she was a member of the National Honor Society and cross country team. She then attended James Madison University (JMU), in Harrisonburg, Va., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary liberal studies in May 2013. She also earned a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from JMU in May 2014. Prior to joining the Peace Corps, she taught fourth grade at Mountain View Elementary in Harrisonburg.
During the first three months of her service, Clark will live with a host family in South Africa to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the necessary skills to assist her community, Clark will be sworn into service and assigned to a community in South Africa, where she will live and work for two years with the local people.
Clark’s projects will include teaching English to students aged 10 to 14 and providing teacher training with a focus on classroom management techniques and student-centered teaching methods.
“I’m excited to see how my teaching strategies and philosophies will change after the Peace Corps. I would really like to keep working with education in some capacity afterward too, whether it is through teaching or another organization focused on advancing educational opportunities for students around the world,” Clark said.
Clark will work in cooperation with the local people and partner organizations on sustainable, community-based development projects that improve the lives of people in South Africa and help Clark develop leadership, technical and cross-cultural skills that will give her a competitive edge when she returns home. Peace Corps volunteers return from service as global citizens well-positioned for professional opportunities in today’s global job market.
“I’m most excited about the people I’ll meet during my service. I can’t wait to meet the volunteers and South African community members I’ll work alongside,” Clark concluded.
Clark joins the 260 Virginia residents currently serving in the Peace Corps and more than 7,388 Virginia residents who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.
There has never been a better time to apply to Peace Corps, and reforms have made the process simpler, faster, and more personalized than ever before. In 2014, applications reached a 22-year high for the agency, with more than 17,000 Americans taking the first step toward international service. Through a one-hour online application, applicants can now choose the countries and programs they’d like to be considered for. Browse available volunteer positions at www.peacecorps.gov/openings.
About Peace Corps/South Africa: There are 127 volunteers in South Africa working with their communities on projects in education and health. During their service in South Africa, volunteers learn to speak local languages, including: Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiZulu, Northern Sotho, Sepedi, Setswana, siSwati, Venda, XiTsongo, and Xhosa. More than 1,285 Peace Corps volunteers have served in South Africa since the program was established in 1997.
To learn more, join our Peace Corps Opportunities in Mexico webinar on June 30 from 6:30-7:30pm EST. Talk with currently serving Volunteers in Mexico as well as the Mexico Placement Officer to learn how you can apply for a position working with the Peace Corps in Mexico.
You will work on promoting community-based environmental education, primarily in the formation of eco-clubs, fostering youth leadership, helping with recycling awareness and other education programs. You will work to build awareness on the importance of natural protected areas and sustainable ecotourism, often teaching in schools or doing teacher training and other community-based environmental education projects. Volunteers also promote sustainable technologies, such as fuel efficient stoves, gardening, rainwater catchment, and solar ovens.
Competitive Volunteers have demonstrated community involvement in planning, organizing, or leadership within the past three years. You should have interest and experience in community outreach, training target populations, and working with stakeholders. You need good communication and strong interpersonal skills to establish effective working relationships with counterparts and community members.
Interested in working on environmental projects in Mexico? Apply for this opening by July 1 to be abroad by March! Read the full job posting here or explore all our environment openings.
About Peace Corps/Mexico: There are 75 volunteers in Mexico working with their communities on projects in community economic development and the environment. During their service in Mexico, volunteers learn to speak Spanish. More than 290 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Mexico since the program was established in 2004.
This article was originally posted on June 27, 2015 by Aleda Johnson in the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Va.
Peace Corps Volunteers Talk Overseas Missions
Since John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, almost 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries globally, with 7,388 of that number being Virginians.
In 2014, Virginia was ranked No. 8 nationally for the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers with 260 volunteers currently serving worldwide.
On July 1, another Virginian will be joining Peace Corps ranks as she heads overseas to teach in Africa.
Allison Clark, 23, a James Madison University alumna, will be serving in South Africa as an English education volunteer teaching fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders.
Prior to joining the Peace Corps, the Pulaski native taught fourth grade at Mountain View Elementary in Harrisonburg.
This passion for teaching children and her love of travel were the main reasons Clark decided to join Peace Corps.
“It was a good marriage of those two things: working with kids and travel,” she said. “I felt a really intense calling to make some sort of impact on the world lately, and I thought the Peace Corps would be a good way to do that.”
Despite her optimistic outlook on the work she hopes to accomplish in the Peace Corps, Clark said she’s a little nervous, especially about not being able to speak with her family as often as she does now.
“I’m not really sure what sort of communication I will have available to me,” she said. “I’ve researched the South African culture some, but I’m not exactly sure what to expect. I’m trying to be open minded about it, but it is nerve wracking.”
Caitlin Anzalone, 27, another JMU alumna who currently resides in McLean, knows exactly what Clark is going through after her own experiences serving in the Peace Corps in Botswana from 2010-2012.
Anzalone, who did HIV/AIDS prevention work in her village in Botswana, said there is a cycle of emotions most volunteers go through when they join.
First, the volunteers must adjust to being with a new cohort of volunteers in a different country and culture.
Then after the 3-month training, they are put at their site and must readjust again to being alone, while trying to make a place in their new community.
“It’s not that I was by myself,” Anzalone said. “You’re completely, 100 percent removed from your family and friends, who are your original support network before you leave.”
Instead of being worried about homesickness though, Clark is focusing on meeting new people during her service.
“I’m really looking forward to all the people I’m going to get to work with while I’m over there,” she said. “I’m hoping that when I build a relationship with my host family and with the people that I will be working with, that will help.”
However, Anzalone stressed that every volunteer’s experience in the Peace Corps is different.
“I had friends who were in Peace Corps, and the Peace Corps network in the United States is huge, so there were a lot of people to talk to. But, when you come down to it, everyone’s experiences were different,” she said. “Some things I didn’t think I would have at all, like running water and electricity, but I had those things — they went out all the time, but I had them.”
One thing that all Peace Corps volunteers have in common, however, is a 3-month period where they go through cultural, language and medical training.
Once her training is complete, Clark will be sworn in and begin her two years of work in a South African community. She will be teaching English to students in primary schools and providing teachers with training that focuses on classroom management techniques and student-centered teaching methods.
But, working in the Peace Corps means more than doing a 9-5 job, according to Anzalone, who spent much of her spare time playing with the neighborhood kids.
“A lot of my favorite memories are really small things you wouldn’t think were big,” she said. “On a regular basis, after work we’d be playing soccer, doing goofy videos together or dying Easter eggs on my back porch.”
And Anzalone offers some advice to Clark and other volunteers who are preparing to begin their service.
“It’s really important you understand that the culture shock and missing home is normal,” she said. “You also lack purpose at first because you have to find out what to do in your community, and some may have it harder than others.”
Anzalone didn’t feel integrated into her community until 10 or 11 months into her service, when the children stopped calling her “China” — due to her Asian heritage — and started calling her by her Botswana name, Lesedi.
“It takes a long time [to adjust], but it also depends on the size of the village,” she said. “One of the first times I felt integrated was when I was walking home from work and all the kids weren’t calling me ‘China’ anymore.”
However, Clark knows her two years in the Peace Corps won’t always be easy.
“It will be a big adjustment being in that completely [different] culture with bunch of people that I’ve never met before,” she said. “But hopefully, after I build a relationship with the people that I’m working with, I hope that that will make the transition a lot easier and make it a lot more comfortable.”
Anzalone said the work she got to complete during her service made it all worthwhile.
The Peace Corps staff warns the volunteers that they may not see the impact they have while being oversees because it doesn’t develop right away.
“It may be something that you’re slowly making an impact through the kids you’re talking to, and you may never see that,” Anzalone said. “But, I was lucky enough to see some of that impact.”
She’s referring to a workshop that was held during her last week in Botswana where a teacher stood up and told Anzalone that the teenage pregnancy rate at her school went from seven reported teenage pregnancies in 2010 to zero in 2011 and one in 2012.
The teacher attributed that decrease to the work Anzalone was doing with the students.
“I was floored, and to hear it was amazing because you hope, ‘Well, maybe one of my students heard something that I said today, and it got through to them,’” she said.
And that is the kind of effect Clark is hoping to have during her service as well.
“I’m hoping to represent America well,” Clark said. “I’m not sure what sort of view the South Africans have of American citizens, but I’m hoping to be a positive representation of our country.”
For more information about the Peace Corps, visit peacecorps.gov. Contact Aleda Johnson at 574-6275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See Peace Corps life through the eyes of Volunteers. Every week we’ll be sharing our favorite #HowISeePC photos from Volunteers around the world. Live, learn and work with a community overseas… and take lots of photos along the way!
Weekends are a great time to get creative and try out some new recipes. Every Foodie Friday, we’ll share a new international recipe from our Peace Corps countries. Go grab some groceries, put on your apron and get ready to cook!
This week’s recipe is makai paaka courtesy of Honest Cooking. Makai paaka means “corn in coconut” and is a Tanzanian corn stew with… you guessed it, coconut! It’s simple to prepare on a summer day with some fresh corn on the cob and is usually served over rice. Enjoy this recipe and then take some time to apply to Peace Corps openings in Tanzania.
2 tsp. rice flour
1 inch piece of ginger
1 green chili
2 tbsp. oil
½ tsp. cumin seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
¼ tsp. tumeric
½ tsp. coriander powder
salt (to taste)
2 large, husked corn cobs, sliced in 1 inch pieces
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
1 cup water
Juice of ½ lime
Coriander leaves (to garnish)
Mix the rice flour with one tablespoon of water and set aside.
Make a paste of the ginger and green chili and set aside.
Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. Once they turn brown, add the ginger and green chili paste and fry for a minute.
Add the chopped onion and fry until they turn translucent. Stir in the turmeric, coriander powder and salt and fry for a minute more.
Add the corn slices and mix well. Add water and the coconut milk and cook covered until the corn cobs are tender and cooked through.
Garnish with lime juice and coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.
Did you catch George Washington University grad Blake’s #HowISeePCInstagram takeover about departing for Peace Corps China? If you missed it, here’s all his great photos of leaving DC, attending staging in San Francisco and arriving in Chengdu.
Check back soon for another new takeover from Eastern Europe. Where do you want to see a Peace Corps takeover from? Let us know in the comments!
This is a #HowISeePC remix. We’re doing things a bit differently with a takeover featuring George Washington University grad and Peace Corps China Trainee Blake! Blake recently arrived in China for training and he’ll be sharing photos and thoughts focusing on that emotional rollercoaster of saying goodbye to loved ones, your last meal in the U.S., meeting your Volunteer group and more!
Wo jiao Bei Wenhao. Showing off my new Chinese name! I’m Blake – a George Washington University grad, former Peace Corps employee at their headquarters in Washington, DC and a current Trainee in China. Last week’s journey from DC to San Francisco to Chengdu was a long one, but I’m ready for an exciting new adventure in Peace Corps China! Cultural integration starts now. #HowISeePC
My last dinner in DC? Bison burger with fries! Definitely a good choice. #HowISeePC
My family also surprised me with this at my last dinner in DC. Nothing says America like a sparkler in a warm brownie with ice cream! #HowISeePC
Saying goodbye at the airport in DC – won’t see these adoring faces for quite some time, but I’ll be looking at this photo often in China. #HowISeePC
This was the view on my flight from DC to Peace Corps staging in San Francisco. Looking out, I appreciated the poetry of having to fly across the country just to leave it. #HowISeePC
Got my Peace Corps shirt! Staging was over, and I got to meet some truly incredible people. I was excited before staging, but then my excitement was through the roof! #HowISeePC
For my last meal in San Francisco, I coerced nine other guys in my training group into coming with me to the Mission district for pupusas since we’ll all miss Latin American food. #HowISeePC
And then I dragged my fellow trainees over to the Castro, where we saw the Castro Theatre and the site of Harvey Milk’s former camera store before going out for a little bit of dancing! Half of the guys that came with me had never been to a gay bar before, and the fact that they were willing to go with me for our last night meant so much to me. It feels great to have so much support so early on! #HowISeePC
And then we were off! 68 incredible, diverse and talented trainees all ready to make a difference as teachers in PeaceCorps China. Zai jian! #HowISeePC
My first photo of beautiful Chengdu taken from my hotel window. It was so invigorating to finally make it (especially after a 13 hour flight)! #HowISeePC
One of several incredible Sichuan dishes from my first meal in China: Mapo tofu! Every single bite better than the last. #HowISeePC
About Peace Corps/China: There are 146 volunteers in China working with their communities on education projects. During their service in China, volunteers learn to speak Mandarin Chinese. More than 995 Peace Corps volunteers have served in China since the program was established in 1993.