I will serve in the U.S. Peace Corps in …

… The Gambia!

The country is a sliver of land in West Africa, known as “The Smiling Coast.” The Gambia’s total area is a mere 11,295 sq km (4,361 sq mi), making it the smallest country on the continent. No more than 48 km (30 mi) wide at its widest point, The Gambia carves out a space in southern Senegal on either side of the picturesque Gambia River. The country’s official language is English, however many native dialects are also spoken. The population of 1.7 million is predominately Muslim.

Gambia

The Gambia

In an effort to improve the poor quality of education, especially for girls, I will train primary school teachers. My job will consist of developing teacher workshops that promote hands-on, student-centered teaching techniques with a focus on improving student literacy and achievement. I’ll be responsible for creatively developing educational resources, including starting a school library, for teachers and students who currently have very few materials. I’ll also work directly with students in their classrooms and in literacy programs that I will develop.  I will primarily work at the school in my rural village, but will also likely be assigned to assist at other schools within biking distance. Aside from my job, I will be required to initiate a secondary project based on the needs of my community.

I couldn’t be more thrilled with my country placement and job assignment, as I feel that my skills and interests are a good fit for The Gambian community.

I will start this chapter of my life in June 2014. After three months of on-site training in or near the capital, Banjul, I’ll start my job in what will likely be a rural village that has yet to be assigned. I’ll serve a total of 27 months in The Gambia.

I was finally invited to serve in the U.S. Peace Corps on Dec. 26 after a grueling eight-month application process that was further complicated by a months-long Chilean Postal Service strike and extra essays due to my inability to have an in-person interview stateside.  The invitation came as an unexpected Christmas present after receiving correspondence just two weeks ago that I likely wouldn’t receive news until February.

I have always had a passion for education and empowering others to reach their goals. Throughout the last two years of teaching English as a Foreign Language in Santiago, Chile, I’ve seen the terribly unequal access to quality education, and was further inspired to make a bigger impact in people’s lives through Peace Corps service.

Thank you for the encouragement so many of you have shown me throughout the application process, and thank you in advance for your continuous support as the real endeavor begins.