Stephanie Wade – Tennessee and Mississippi

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Recruiting area: Tennessee and Mississippi

Country of service: Guatemala

Service years: 2010 – 2012

What type of work did you do as a volunteer? I was a Peace Corps Master’s International volunteer. My official title was Municipal Development Volunteer.

What was a typical day like? I worked in the municipality of Sansare, El Progreso in the Municipal Planning Office and the Municipal Women’s Office. I walked to work every morning around 8am. I had an office with four co-workers.  We had a Director, Architect (who was a woman), Secretary, and Project Coordinator.  I worked alongside the Project Coordinator. We focused on community outreach, so most of my days consisted of visiting different communities within our municipality and getting them involved in the political process.

Describe a defining moment or event during your service. I was at a birthday party with my host family and we took a picture. It was a digital camera, so we were able to see the picture immediately after is was taken. It was at that point, when I was looking at the picture,  when I realized I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. It was an amazing moment! Out of all the pictures I’ve seen of other volunteers, on the website, on Peace Corps promotional material, on blogs, on videos, the list goes on, I’ve never had the opportunity to really “see” myself as one of “them”. I’m referencing “them” as one of those people who travel the world and help others across the globe. This one picture allowed me to see myself as one of “them”, i.e. the ones who really care and do something about it.

What’s the one thing you want people to know about Peace Corps? Peace Corps is an amazing experience but it can be tough. No one ever explained tough to me, but though can mean physically strenuous and mentally. It’s the mental toughness that’s hard to prepare for. It’s important to know why you want to be a Peace Corps Volunteer and never forget it because your purpose will help you though the tough times.