Where and when did you serve?
I served In the rainforest interior of Suriname (South America) 2011-2013
What was your main project?
I worked with the local people to improve local infrastructure (access to the river which is the local highway), we also did a significant ECPA project to introduce small solar devices to entrepreneurs and consumers throughout the region!
What were the main staples of your diet?
The local people subsist on rice, locally farmed vegetables, and fish. In addition to the local diet, I ate a whole lot of lentil stew!
What do you miss the most from your service?
The community - of Volunteers and of locals. The love and support was so incredible and I miss it in this disconnected modern world out here.
What’s the most embarrassing/funny thing that ever happened to you?
One time, I came home after a day in the rainforest and was immediately surrounded by kids (normal). I opened up my house/windows and they started drumming on the walls/window sills as kids do. After a minute, a bunch of things fell down off the lintel and I started yelling at the kids for drumming too hard. When I went to put the things back I saw that it wasn't the drumming that had knocked off the items...it was the 8 foot boa constrictor that was napping there and they had woken up! My subsequent noises and gestures were very amusing to everyone watching.
What was the most satisfying aspect of your service?
Earning my place in the community - as a professional working with the village elders on projects, and as a neighbor participating in religious and community events.
What do you continue to do in America that you learned in your country of service?
I actually launched a social enterprise snack company - Peaceful Fruits that follows the Peace Corps philosophy of sustainability and empowerment. We work with the people in the Amazon (not directly with my village, but the region) to source the acai that we use to make our snacks!
What do you miss the least?
Sweating. while sitting down. In the shade.
Have you ever returned to your country of service?
Not yet but I hope to soon!
Describe your career path after PC?
I launched Peaceful Fruits when I came back from Peace Corps to stay connected to the people and continue the mission of respectful, responsible, economic empowerment. It's a slow, tough process, but we are growing - our snacks will be in Whole Foods soon and can be found on Amazon.com already! For anyone interested in learning more about the business and my journey, please check out the KickStarter we are running right now to help us grow! It goes through Sept 19th. Thank you!
What advice would you give to PCs/RPCVs?
Dive in and don't look back!