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Kea's Story

Kea

I am currently serving as a Peace Corps Response volunteer in Liberia, Africa. I serve with American volunteers who are on their 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th tours, and I am humbled by their ongoing contributions to world peace and friendship. Their ability to so easily inhabit multiple cultures astounds and impresses me. In my position here as a natural resource management trainer, I am working alongside the faculty and staff of the post-secondary Forestry Training Institute, which educates young professionals in responsible forest resource stewardship, critical in this country that has the largest intact patches of Upper Guinean Rainforest in western Africa. My Liberian colleagues are friends and neighbors; they share their knowledge, their lunches, their time.  They tease me good-naturedly when I attempt to fry peanuts that should be boiled, or use soap intended for dishes in my laundry bucket. They are unfailingly patient and instructive, eager to explain local customs. They are curious about all things American, and enjoy talking with me about similarities and differences in our habits, foods, sports, governance. I have the privilege and the challenge of teaching young people who want to make a difference, in a country that is still recovering from the devastation caused by a war and an epidemic. The students are passionate about their country and its forests, and eager to learn sustainable management strategies. They inspire me to think about the interconnectedness of the world, through our shared work with plants, and through our shared experiences trying to preserve biodiversity. I’ve had the opportunity to see forests and farms, tree nurseries and agroforestry plantations; I’ve worked alongside dedicated professionals striving to maintain these rich resources that benefit all humankind. My service has given me a sense of hope, that teamwork can move the needle on the world’s challenges, and a sense of pride, about what communities can accomplish together.