Tag Archives: Peace Corps Volunteer

No Soup Today

Instead of a soup recipe today (don’t worry; we’ll be back tomorrow with more!), I’d like to say thank you to Sargent Shriver, husband of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and the first head of the Peace Corps.

As you can tell from my biography, I was proud to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1997 to 1999 in Burkina Faso, West Africa.

That experience changed my life and it brought two of the most wonderful people I will ever know into my life for good.

In this blog we talk about understanding, appreciating, and respecting other cultures. I would probably have never written a word about these things if I hadn’t served in the Peace Corps. It was my first real opportunity to put service into action – and I hope I never stop.

As parents, we want to provide our children with the tools they’ll need to navigate the world. That’s a big part of why I write about other cultures: to help children understand the people and cultures with whom they will one day undoubtedly interact.

The Peace Corps gave me the ability to do that: to understand and appreciate people who – on the surface – may seem different from me and my family.

But another tool that parents need to provide their children is the value of service. The Peace Corps gave me that, too.

When we talk about service, it usually sounds so wishy-washy and goodie-goodie. But anyone who has ever served in the Peace Corps knows that you have to be a real fighter in order to serve.

  • You can’t let one bad day (or monsoon season) drive you away; you have to stay and fulfill your assignment.
  • You can’t let one mishap or negative social interaction define an entire people for you. Think about how Americans would fare if others did that to us!
  • You can’t let food poisoning or naughty students or an inability to speak the language or a total lack of knowledge of the country’s postal/banking/medical/telephone system derail you. You keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The Peace Corps taught me resilience; the capacity to fight for what I believe over and over; how to say bad words in Dioula and Bwamou; and how to say thank you in multiple languages.

So now I can say thank you (merci, aneechay, etc.) to you, Sargent Shriver, for your service as head of the Peace Corps. Aside from motherhood, it truly is the toughest job I’ll ever love.

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Plant a Garden Wherever You Go

Twelve years ago, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bagassi, Burkina Faso and so homesick for my mother’s flower garden I spent a day breaking ground with a daba (a short-handled hoe), arranging rocks around the perimeter, and transplanting native plants into a garden of my own.

I couldn’t have been prouder than if my garden had been full of award-winning roses. My neighbor’s children were delighted. Their reaction made my hard work so worthwhile.

It was a little thing. It required no more than a day’s worth of work (which I could fortunately spare). But it made a big difference to me just as I was finishing my first year of service.

I like to think of the white and purple flowers returning year after year. I wonder if that little garden is still there.

But what would mean more to me is if those three little girls, now young women, remember me and all the strange, laughable things I did while trying to acclimate myself to their customs.

Who knows? Maybe they’ve even created little gardens of their own by now.


Filed under Africa

Allez Cuisine!

KC and her son

KC and her son

I’m a mom, a writer, and a home cook who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso, West Africa.  

Since coming back to the U.S. in 1999, I’ve gotten to speak to many schoolchildren and they ALWAYS ask, “What did you eat?”  

Now I’m trying to raise my own child with an appreciation for global culture – especially the food, always the food. 

In this blog I’m going to share ideas and information that parents can use to get their children excited about other countries.  

Feel free to post your ideas, recipes, and experiences living in another culture and how you’re sharing that with your children.

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