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 Vanessa Gibson

USA

 

I joined the Peace Corps because I wanted to learn more about the world. I wanted to see how other people live their daily lives, and what their reality is. I knew that traveling to a country wouldn’t have offered the same insight as moving to a country for two years and living with a local family did. I integrated with the locals and learned their language, their culture, and the nuances of their lives.
I started working with Leadership during the second year of my service. During this time, two projects stand out as most memorable. One project called peace week engaged the youth in a week long event, where they received trainings on conflict resolution and anger management, negotiation, and teaching your peers. The youth participated in these trainings, and then presented these trainings to fellow peers to ignite their leadership abilities. The second, and my favorite event, was a 40 days against violence campaign organized by Leadership. It was a small project funded by the UN, with 20 local youth engaging in the campaign. The project consisted of doing an awareness raising campaign on violence against women and children and the many forms it can take such as bride kidnapping. The youth marched from Leadership, through the center, to the University with a large banner while handing out pamphlets of information and stopping to talk with people. We finished at the University where we collaborated with a fellow NGO in a flag planting ceremony. The visual of the white red and purple flags, each color representing a different statistic, and the sheer number of flags had an impacting presence. Every pedestrian walking by couldn’t help but to look at the flags, while many of them stopped to read the signs and ask questions.
As a peace corps volunteer, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. All I knew was that I wanted to live in another country and build meaningful relationships with people outside of the US. I did end up building an especially close relationship with the host family which I stayed with during training, as well as with the host family to which I was permanently placed. The one thing I didn’t expect that would happen at such a deep level was how much I learned about myself. Through this difficult but rewarding experience, I’ve gained more insight into who I am in two years than I ever have in my life thus far, and in that way, Peace Corps has made an impacting change in my life.

 

 

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