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Nelson Carson (2006)

Peace Corps: Entering a Third Year of Service

Nelson Carson graduated in 2006 with a dual-degree in French and International Relations & Diplomacy. He spent the first year after graduation teaching English in France through the . French Teaching Assistantship Program. But he wasn't done with learning about other cultures. He joined the Peace Corps the following year for a two year assignment in the Cape Verde islands. He loved it so much that in Autumn he signed on for a third year! Here is his update:

"The most exhausting part of the process is the application process and the pre-service training. Once you get beyond that, the actual service time will seem to fly by. You are interacting with people in the real world, doing real things. This is where the satisfaction lies. There can be an overload of culture-language-technical details at the very start. But, once you begin your work, you feel like you belong and life becomes "normal."

My main task is to teach English to high school students. I also organize and participate in many community improvement projects. I cultivate youth volunteerism through beach clean-ups and epidemic awareness programs. Dengue fever has been a big scare. Mosquito control is critical, and another island in the Cape Verdes island chain had a severe outbreak. It sent many people to the hospital, and the military had to help in the control effort.

I have come to appreciate the pace of life on the island. Not everything operates as "efficiently" as we would expect in the states, but things always seem to work themselves out. There is always an underlying current of helpfulness that leads to tasks being completed. I was working on the creation of a boys camp. This involved the Ministry of Education, Red Cross and the National Park Services, and negotiations can go on for months. It can seem as if little progress is being made. But, then in the final days everyone seems to come through. It was an exercise in bureaucratic patience!

The island is full of music and social life. I live in a town of population 5000, and I have found I enjoy the easy familiarity of knowing almost everyone I meet anywhere I go. Every town has a patron saint and a yearly festival for that saint. Visitors come from around the country and around the world to celebrate and reconnect with family and friends. I enjoy the liveliness of the town and the deep sense of connection its people share with one another. It seems like every third person can strum the guitar and sing. There is music everywhere and it is an important part of peoples' lives. I have come to enjoy the quality and pace of life here."

Learn more about the French Teaching Assistantship Program.

Learn more about the Peace Corps.