Skip to Main Content

Our Stories

/Our Stories

  • 28 May 2019 by Ann Evansen

    [This is part of our series on the people behind the International Calendar. Annie Freeman Evansen served in Paraguay in 1979.]

    One of my favorite memories of my Peace Corps was the day we arrived in the town for our initial training. I left my home in Wisconsin in January, where is was 0° F. The day we arrived in Asuncion, Paraguay it was 105° F.  We spent 2 days in Asuncion getting to know the PC local staff.  We then headed for Aregua, a small town 45 min outside Asuncion.   We were the first group of volunteers to train in Aregua.    

    As we drove the scenery changed from asphalt and concrete to trees and flowers.  As we turned off the main road and into Aregua we could feel the temperature drop and a breeze pick up.  The road came in near the top of a hill with a beautiful white church that looked over the town and down to the Lago Ypacarai.   The bus stopped and let us off at a large white house with porches front and back.  It was there where would spend most of our days for the next 3 months as we trained in language and skills we would need.

    I then met my host family. Dona Lucy picked me up with her 7 year old daughter, Dori.  Dona Lucy gave me such a warm smile and Dori gave me a great big hug.  We drove a short distance toward their house before stopping and walking the rest of the way.  We walked on a foot path over a shallow stream. Women sat and washed clothes in the wider area.  They all said “hola” as we went past.  Their house was turquoise with 4 rooms.  They showed me my room and wardrobe, and after settling in a bit, we all sat and talked and talked.  Later that night a thunderstorm went through the town and we stood out on the porch watching the rain and the lightning. 

    Four children, including Dori, still lived at home.  Her oldest daughter was married with a 6-month-old baby.  Dona Lucy’s niece lived there, too. Her home village didn’t have a high school, so she helped with house work and attended school.

    I keep in contact with members of the family.  Dori and other siblings live in the USA and she has two children in high school.  I hope I can be as welcoming to others I meet as they were to me.   Welcoming others into your life with kindness doesn’t depend on how much you have, but how open your heart is. 


  • 21 May 2019 by Patricia Halpin

    [This story is part of our series on the people behind the International Calendar. Meet Pat Halpin,  RPCV Botswana 1978-1981. If you ever left a voicemail message on our main number (in the footer of each website page), she either calls you back or forwards your call on to the right person.]

    My world was small growing up on a family dairy farm. College was only about 30 miles away and my first teaching job was in the same town. It is not much of a stretch to say that Peace Corps enlarged my world many-fold! Going to Botswana in 1978 was my first need for a passport.

    Teaching domestic science (home economics) in a secondary school was my Peace Corps job. School buildings, teacher’s quarters and student hostels were all on the same grounds. For me, teaching in Botswana was much more rewarding than in the U.S. Students understood the value of their education. Secondary education was only open to some as there weren’t enough spots for everyone. There were challenges as a teacher. The biggest problem was losing students to pregnancy. That ended a girl’s opportunity for any more education. For a young woman this was sad. There was no allowance to go back to school after the child was born.

    My students were all girls. We did individual projects outside of class. This is where the young women felt at ease in asking all kinds of questions. Learning from these students was the most valuable thing I took away from Peace Corps. It was so rewarding to hear them thinking about their future and how they could make it better. These young women knew what they could fall into or what they could make plans for. It was eye opening for me to see what they faced as teen aged women. They also had all the same wants and desires of most other young woman in the world. We are all the same.

    Peace Corps is an extremely valuable experience. I think the value is in what we as Americans learn about the world. For most of us our world is small compared to what the real-world entails.


  • 07 May 2019 by Michelle Possin

    This post is part of our series on the people behind our group. Michelle and Chuck Possin served in South Africa 2010-2012.

    In 2010 my husband and I began our PC training in South Africa. We couldn’t wait to dive into a new culture. We had adventure traveled for years, often with improvised destinations. While this approach unsettled most, we were in our comfort zone. Imagine my surprise when I freaked out during week 3 of training! I cried and cried. Why was I selected to be a Health Outreach Coordinator? I didn’t have any health background! What kind of impact would I have? Would I be accepted? How in the world would I learn Zulu? Several trainees quit within the first few weeks, “maybe they know something I don’t?” But, we pressed on and spent 3 months learning about how HIV and TB co-infection had an enormously negative affect on an entire generation. We learned about the rich Zulu culture, Apartheid history and the lasting impact of institutionalized racism. And we felt comfortable greeting in Zulu.

    I was placed as a HR Mgr in an NGO which provides home based and inpatient HIV and TB prevention and treatment. I had a real job with responsibilities. We formed HS clubs, organized community events, wrote grants, created a gardening project & a running club -all the PC projects you expect. We were busy every day, all day!

    At the end of Yearr One I couldn’t imagine leaving. We were just getting started!. I began my mornings listening to the nurses sing. I loved my Zulu co-workers and spending my days with them. I experienced sheer awe daily, no matter if we were hiking on dusty roads or shopping in the market. I loved strolling through the village, always curious how everyone knew which goats and cows belonged to whom. I ran every morning, first alone then with kids or co-workers.

    The two-plus years I spent living in KZN were the richest, most enjoyable and most purposeful years of my life. My friendships other PCVs are still deep. It changed me to my core. Even though I was a middle-aged woman, my confidence strengthened immensely. What I consider important evolved. So often people say to me “I wanted to go into the PC so badly after college, but just never went”. I always say “GO!” Go Now! Go Anytime, just GO!