Name: Natalie Felton
Country of Service: Vanuatu, 2011-15
Recruitment Focus: Diverse populations
The desire to travel stirred my decision to apply for Peace Corps in 2010. After living and working in Southern France for two and half years, I wanted to challenge myself with a more rustic experience. My dream was to serve in West Africa. I wanted to get back to my roots, immerse myself into the local culture, food and music and return back to the U.S with an intimate relationship and understanding of my ancestors. I wanted to give back to my host country; share my knowledge, education and resources, providing an addition to local custom and tradition.
Though my path did not direct me to Senegal, Guinea or Mali, my path did allow for me to immerse into the rich, tropical and Melanesian culture of Vanuatu. I was fortunate to have been accepted to extend my contract twice in the South Pacific.
My primary exposure was the rustic and humbling experience I longed for. I lived in the middle of Unua community with 2,000 of my closest neighbors. Being housed on the school campus, I shared, learned and lived like the local teachers. My typical weekday routine consisted of a 30-minute run at 5:30 a.m. on the soccer field in front of my house. Immediately after sun rise, I returned to my sleeping quarters, where I rid my house of any rodent carcasses my cat Sydney decided to leave as a morning gift. Next, I headed to my bush kitchen, started a fire to boil tea, stepped over to my bathing house to collect eggs given to me by a sweet hen that created a home in the right corner and fried them.
After a warm and full tummy, I took the remaining hot warm from the tea kettle and prepped for a bucket bath. As the first bell sounded (signal for school children to make their way to school grounds) I was dressed and preparing my materials needed for my morning class. As the children made their way to the school, I stepped outside for my morning tooth brushing routine (hopefully to inspire all the children). Then swiftly started my teaching day.
My day ended with a freshly picked mango or a mandarin and a great conversation under a shaded tree with my counterparts and their children. As the Pacific slowly swallowed the sun, I headed to my garden to pick fresh veggies to be cooked over a warm fire as my iPod sung to me in the background. By sunset, my teeth were brushed, my belly full and I was enjoying a good book under the dim light of my solar lamp.
My service taught me that life should be simple, adventurous, challenging and rewarding. In learning this and having had experience a multitude of adventurous, challenges and success, I wanted to share my story to encourage others to give Peace Corps a try. What better way to stand as an advocate for such an amazing agency than to work as a Peace Corps Diversity Recruiter. Just three months into my career and I’ve met and created relationships with amazing agencies, organizations and collegiate institutions. After giving back and educating globally, I have the opportunity to educate Diverse Americans on the Peace Corps experience.
Natalie supports Peace Corps’ efforts to recruit volunteers from underrepresented communities by helping people of all ages and racial and ethnic backgrounds learn about opportunities to serve.
Peace Corps actively recruits people with a variety of backgrounds and experiences to best share our nation’s greatest resource – its people – with the communities where volunteers serve around the globe. The Peace Corps welcomes people from every background and does not discriminate against anyone based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (50 or over), disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, parental status, political affiliation, union membership, genetic information, or prior participation in protected activity including grievance proceedings.Visit Peace Corps’ website to find out more about who volunteers.
Search current event listings and sign up for more info to receive notices about Peace Corps events near you. Questions about life as a volunteer or the application process? Contact Natalie directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.