June 1, 1998 - Emory Magazine: Associate Professor Edna Bay served in Malawi

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Malawi: Peace Corps Malawi : The Peace Corps in Malawi: June 1, 1998 - Emory Magazine: Associate Professor Edna Bay served in Malawi

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, February 01, 2003 - 6:38 pm: Edit Post

Associate Professor Edna Bay served in Malawi

Associate Professor Edna Bay served in Malawi


Something new, fresh, and young

When Edna Bay earned her undergraduate degree from Duke University in 1965, joining the Peace Corps was an opportunity she couldn't refuse.

"Frankly, it had to do with the possibilities for a young woman with a college degree," explains Bay, an associate professor in Emory's Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts. "In my graduating class, there were two tracks that [women] were taking. The lucky ones had diamond rings and were getting married that summer. And it was suggested to me that the best thing to do was to go to a large city and take a secretarial course in order to get gainful employment. There were not a lot of options. The Peace Corps was new, fresh, young, and it was not just a fun thing to do, it was also doing good for people."

Bay was a Peace Corps volunteer from 1966 to 1968 in the southeast African nation of Malawi, where she taught history in a girls' boarding school. "Our students were very bright, and they worked very hard," she remembers. She recalls an event that occurred while she was lecturing about American history, when Mother Nature helped out with an invaluable teaching aid.

"I remember talking about Henry Hudson getting stuck in ice and trying to talk about what ice is," she says, laughing. "And one day we had a very heavy rainstorm and there were big, marble-sized hailstones all over the place. So we all went outside and talked about ice. That was kind of fun to be trying to explain what snow and ice are and to have that happen."

Bay says the Peace Corps "absolutely changed my life," and she encourages her students to consider serving. "I still think it's a wonderful experience, and it does much more for the volunteer than it can possibly do for the community in which the volunteer serves."

Recently, Bay renewed her ties to Malawi through an organization called Friends of Malawi, which is in direct contact with Peace Corps volunteers in that country. "It's not only a way for ex-Peace Corps volunteers to keep in touch but also it has allowed us to donate to small projects. And through those connections I have gotten involved in Malawi Children's Village, a project designed to respond to the effects of the AIDS epidemic in one particular area of Malawi.

"It's a curious thing. When we went into the Peace Corps we always assumed that toward the end of our working careers we might go back and have another go at it. What we have discovered is that there is probably a more effective way to help out and serve Malawi, and this project is proving to be an outlet for us."--J.D.T.

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