1. Colombia ¡BEAKSBAHPORERUBE!

    My coming to terms with Colombian culture began in earnest at Tibaitatá, the Rockefeller Foundation Experimental Farm just outside Bogotá, where my Peace Corps group underwent in-country training. People were engaging, with a certain style and grace. Facilities were basic but adequate; fresh boot-prints on the commode seat did give me pause from time to time but not enough to keep me from going about my business. Food was bland, but the big barrier was Spanish. When we arrived in Co...

  2. Ghana Meeting the Ambassador

    I was in Ghana in 1974-76 and was there when Shirley Temple Black was the Ambassador. I had grown up knowing that she and I have the same birthday, April 23. On our birthday, April 23, 1976 I was in the capital city, Accra and decided to see if she would meet with me ( I had met her before at a Peace Corps dinner).  I went to the American Embassy and ran the doorbell and was greeted by the Marines at the front desk.  I explained that I was a Peace Corps volunteer who had the same birthday as ...

  3. Thailand This is not just a job, this is life....

    On November 24th, my host father, Sub-Lieutenant Kusol Kongsri, passed away at the age of 74. The experience of his death, the grief, and the funeral were the hardest part of my Peace Corps experience to date. In all honesty it has been one of the hardest experiences of my life. It is hard to explain all of this through writing but I believe that it is important to share. My host father had been suffering from diabetes for quite some time, but he was extremely active, smart and engaged d...

  4. Kazakhstan You know when I went away to the Army 25 years ago...

    Upon arriving at site 15 months ago I was greeted by my soon to be host father at the train station. His son and I had met on the train coming from PST and we had decided that it would be a wonderful opportunity for all involved parties if I were to live with them for my required 6 months, before moving out on my own. Within the first couple of weeks I was a guest at many houses as I met cousins, brothers, aunts, and grandparents. All of them had the same similar questions as to how I arrived...

  5. Azerbaijan "Helping Promote a Better Understanding"

    I left the U.S. during a time when Americans were struggling with their perceptions of an entire religion, that of the Muslim faith.  I didn’t understand the messages of hate which were being expressed by my fellow Americans and I thought (and I still think) it came from a lack of understanding and a fear of the unknown.  Serving here in Azerbaijan with the Peace Corps has confirmed just how wrong so many of my American compatriots are on this topic. For the first time in my life, I atte...

  6. Kazakhstan Losing Control

    It was only my third day in Kazakhstan, but it was an important one.  It was the day volunteers were taken home by our host families, the people we would live with during our three months of training in villages around the city of Almaty.  A nervous energy filled the air as we packed and repacked our belongings, trying unsuccessfully to find a place for the water distiller and medical kits given to us by the Peace Corps.  We all dressed in our Sunday best, whispering and gossiping like nervou...

  7. Niger Goodbye Niger

    It was too green. The cows were too fat, the children too clean, the roads too well-paved. I turned to Mariah, my bus buddy on for the two hours from the airport in Casablanca to Rabat, the capital of Morocco. “Are we really still in Africa?” “I’m not really sure of anything anymore,” she wearily responded. It had been four sleepless days since Peace Corps had announced that we were leaving Niger. Ten anxious days since terrorists with ties to Al Qaeda had kidnapped two French nationals ...

  8. Kenya Tacos or Butt Cheeks?

    This story takes place while I was still staying with my home stay family in Naivasha, Kenya.  During the day we were in language and cultural classes.  The evenings we spent with our new families - talking, having dinner, the sisters helping me with swahili, me helping them with their math. One night when I arrived home, I realized we would be eating early as dinner was already started.  Mama Mary (as so named after her first born, named Mary) was home and called to me "Robin, oka,...

  9. Guatemala Meet The Parents

      I got an unexpected but very pleasant surprise when my dad called me last saturday night. “I have someone here that wants to talk to you,” he told me from his house in Jersey City, New Jersey. He handed the phone over, and to my amazement I was greeted by Katarina, the mother of one of the teachers I work with here in the Guatemalan highlands. I was so shocked at first by the connection between these two previously seperate parts of my life, it took me a few moments to understand wh...

  10. Kenya The Little Rose on Ngong Road

    I have become accustomed to seeing groups of school children walking for miles, all in their school uniforms, to and from school every day. Some of the groups are made up of 10 kids or more, some are groups of 4 and occasionally I will see them 2 by 2 – but I don’t remember in rural Kenya ever seeing a single school child walking alone. So I remember for just a second, that when I first caught sight of The Girl on Ngong Road, that seeing this young (probably about 7) school girl walkin...

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.