I can’t talk about Peace Corps without talking about my professor, who mentioned Peace Corps, after asking me, “What are your plans after college?” I had no idea opportunities like Peace Corps existed; a chance to work with and learn with another community away from home. I recall feeling excited looking at the website and seeing pictures of so many cultures and thinking, “I can do this,” as I smiled to myself. Once accepted, the hardest thing was telling my parents I was leaving for two years, as opposed to starting a career in social work, like they expected at the time. Nonetheless, I was fortunate to have their support.
Upon my arrival to the village of Seera, in Burkina Faso, West Africa, a large group of women and some men were waiting for me on the side of the road and we danced for about a mile to my new home. Although, I was nervous, I felt welcomed, and that first day reflected my two years in Burkina Faso; I was blessed to have lived with a community that showed me love and protection.
I had the opportunity to work with children, youth, and elders in areas that I never imagined I would, such as: co-leading a youth club, growing tofu, and facilitating workshops related to healthy lifestyles, all in a different language.
Seera helped me become a better person by showing me the importance of community. As a daughter of parents who grew up in a village in Mexico, I was able to see some of their stories in each of my neighbors. What I loved the most about my Peace Corps experience was the emphasis of our work being driven by the community. It was never our job to come with solutions, but to live and learn with a community, and then work alongside that community. For me, the most important thing was understanding my ‘why?’ for doing Peace Corps because when your heart is in the right place and one is willing to listen and learn, then that makes all the difference in one’s Peace Corps service.