Dates served with Peace Corps: 2007 – 2009
Location(s) served with Peace Corps: Belize, Santa Martha Village
Role in Peace Corps: Micro Enterprise and Organizational Development Volunteer
Date Joined ACE: 5/2010
Role(s) In ACE: Associate Director of Member Resources, ACE PACIFIC WEST CREW
Q: What were you doing before joining the Peace Corps?
A: Sales Representative for Tom’s of Maine Natural Care in Los Angeles, CA
Q: How did you hear about The Peace Corps?
A: Online searching, researching the best organization for long term travel and programming overseas. Inspired by a study abroad trip to China in college.
Q: Walk me through your time with the Peace Corps? What were some of your favorite memories?
A: Training at PC HQ is a blur looking back. You receive your actual site a few weeks after arrival, so it’s a fun surprise. It’s all about building trust, meeting people, learning how to bounce back when ideas fail, no one shows up to your meeting, or the weather is no good. If you can leave the site better off, be it better relationships or cultural understanding, you’ve done well. Not everyone needs to build a library or a preschool. The little things, village kids coming to your door at all hours, handmade flour tortillas, fresh coconut water, finally scoring a soccer goal after 1 year of riding the bench.
Q: What was it like living in your service location? Did you have significant time off? If so- what did you do during that time off?
A: Pretty rustic (400 person village 4 days a week bus service to town) but that’s what I wanted. Other volunteers in Belize had it much more rural with limited bus service 1x/week, no electricity and doing laundry in the river. I had a washing machine and a fan! Concrete floors are awesome, a luxury compared to dirt floors. Everyone knows you, yes you have to keep occupied during bad weather and really hot days. We went scuba diving and toured the neighboring countries as much as we could. The nice thing was if you traveled to help another PC volunteer with their event or project, this was not ‘time off’ and allowed you to travel and visit others.
Q: In what ways did The Peace Corps shape your life personally and professionally?
A: New perspective on government philanthropy and private funding too, money does not solve all the problems. So much facilitation is needed to get projects and good ideas to continue after you leave. Train the future trainer or teacher, that is the key.
Q: Where did you hear about ACE?
A: Online search before leaving PC, Coolworks.com!
Q: What skills did you learn in the Peace Corps that apply to being associate director in ACE?
A: Self managing your time, utilizing your resources, respecting volunteer service, a good balance of hands-on ability and some awareness of technology. Smart phones were introduced while I was overseas, so that was a bit of an adjustment to catch up in 2009/2010.
Q: How do you fill your time outside work? What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
A: My side hustle is car detailing, landscaping and handyman work and my neighbors regularly hit me up. We go wine tasting when the weather is nice, plenty of local hikes, riding my motorcycle and I just got really deep into car restoration and have a few projects in motion.
Q: Lastly, what would you say to a current ACE member that aspires to be in the Peace Corps?
A: There are good people to meet all over the world, try not to have too many expectations for a certain location. Do your research but realize everyone’s experience is going to be unique to them. The people you meet in PC, be it the other vols or the local residents, you won’t be able to meet them on a vacation or short trip, this is the only way. And, you need 2 years to get stuff done! The first year is really just getting your footing, the last 6 months are usually the most effective. For the ACE’ers, it’s kind of like a long camping trip in a way.