Name: Brendan Cavanagh
Recruiting Area: Austin, Texas
Years of Service: 1999 – 2002
Country of Service: Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
What type of work did you do in Peace Corps? I served for nearly 2 years in a remote village as a Water and Sanitation Volunteer, working with the community to ensure potable water and public sanitation through projects like training pump repairmen and training masons to build latrines. I extended my service for a third year to serve as a Volunteer Leader, managing the regional house and office.
What was the most unusual food or custom you encountered? Nearly everything was strange to me at first but I eventually felt at home, except for agba. Agba is the dried cassava rootthat turns moldy during the drying process when there isn’t enough sunlight and is the local staple during the rainy season. Fortunately, rice is available year-round and was affordable for me so I only had agba when I wanted to prove my chops.
Describe a defining event during your service. I knew I had arrived when, on a hunting outing I was razzed by my friends for letting an agoutiget away. Not only did they feel comfortable enough to give me a hard time but I had learned enough of the local language (Kulango) to understand them and reply that it didn’t look very tasty anyway (as it ran past me).
One thing you want people to know about Peace Corps. Serving in the Peace Corps can be challenging but it is equally rewarding. If you accept the challenge you will amaze yourself by what you can do and in the long run you will get more out of it than you give.