Current Job Title:
Peace Corps Volunteer
Describe your current job:
I am a Peace Corps volunteer currently serving in a small community in Panama. My sector is Teaching English, Leadership, and Life Skills. One of my primary projects is to work with local English teachers to improve their English skills and teaching methodologies. I also work with community leaders and Panamanian agencies to design and facilitate youth development workshops, camps, and clubs which focus on goal-setting, leadership, gender equality, professional skills, and sex education.
What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is the relationships I've formed with my Panamanian counterparts. Living in the same community where I work has allowed me to integrate into the culture and become close with the local leaders, teachers, and families. I also feel like Peace Corps has been an amazing opportunity for my own professional growth. I've learned so much about grassroots development from working with my community to create projects from scratch that address their needs and provide them with the sustainable tools they need to meet their goals. The biggest challenge has been trying to get projects off the ground while adapting to a new culture at the same time. A year into my service, I'm still learning all the nuances of how teachers and professionals operate in Panamanian culture (not to mention getting used to Caribbean Spanish). The challenge makes it that much more rewarding, though, when I make a new connection and learn something new.
What experiences impacted the choice of your career path?
My experiences at WMU both inspired and prepared me for my current career path of International Development. Through the Spanish program, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain for a semester, which not only improved my Spanish skills by leaps and bounds, but also gave me my first taste of adapting to a new culture. I was also given unique opportunities through the Anthropology program to expand my view of the world´s cultures and the amazing, complex humans who create (and are created by) them. My current job is a logical result of the enriching experiences I had as a student in both programs.
What advice would you offer students to help them decide on a career path?
My advice would be to take time to explore your passions and decide what kind of work you would find truly fulfilling. Talk to people who are currently working in fields you might be interested in pursuing and see what the journey was like for them. You might discover a dream career you never even knew existed!