September 1, 2003 - Swathmore University: Elizabeth Derickson was a Peace Corps Volunteers in Cape Verde

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Cape Verde: Peace Corps Cape Verde : The Peace Corps in Cape Verde: September 1, 2003 - Swathmore University: Elizabeth Derickson was a Peace Corps Volunteers in Cape Verde

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Elizabeth Derickson was a Peace Corps Volunteers in Cape Verde

Elizabeth Derickson was a Peace Corps Volunteers in Cape Verde

Elizabeth Derickson ’01
Cape Verde Islands, 2001–2003
Preschool development/computer instructor

Work focus and Swarthmore influence: “The focus of my work has been preschool development and computer instruction. My studies and activities at Swarthmore were a direct precursor to my PC work. I spent my junior and senior years studying child care and child development as a psychology/public policy major, and that directly translated into my interest in preschool development in Cape Verde.”

Challenges and rewards: “The most basic challenge initially was language. The Cape Verdean Creole, a Portuguese-based Creole, is a relatively simple language, but it still took months to feel socially and professionally comfortable and competent. The vagueness of my initial job assignment—‘community development mobilizer’—was also challenging, as I tried to carve out a professional role for myself using the language of a 4 year old. The rewards of language mastery and eventual professional competence were well worth the initial days of frustration. I have a wonderful circle of pseudo-families and friends here, who fill my days with lots of laughter and love. Although I have had triumphant moments as a preschool coordinator or a computer teacher, my satisfaction here comes primarily from my relationships with students, colleagues, and friends.”

Impact of PC experience: “I can already see how this experience will profoundly shape the rest of my life. I was very lucky to have many visitors from home during my PC service—Kait Hutchinson ’01, C.J. Riley ’01, and my parents—which helped me begin to process this whole experience in the context of my home identity and my life as a whole. Living so far from my family and friends has only served to strengthen the connections I feel with them and to give me a deeper appreciation for the value of family and old friends. I chose PC to test out my commitment to social service and to experience life in another culture and environment. My experiences here in Cape Verde have completely affirmed both my commitment to social service and the value I see in cross-cultural experience and exchange.

“[In July,] I just finished my final check-out stuff with Peace Corps. I have said tearful good-byes with all of my loved ones in Assomada, my home of two years—my colleagues, students, neighbors, fellow PC volunteer, and adopted family members (young and old). Over the past week, my home in Assomada was inundated with the presence and presents of those loved ones and those of my two PC volunteer housemates, who are also leaving. We threw a massive goodbye party, Cape Verdean style—everything from preparing gargantuan pots of food cooked over fires to blasting Cape Verdean pop music and dancing into the night. Everyone we know—from the poorest of our friends to the mayor of the town—has visited our home with kind farewell words and bags loaded with presents for us to take. The generosity and openness that I have encountered here is absolutely inspiring. I leave here with the same two suitcases of belongings that I arrived with two years ago—and with a heart and mind full of unforgettable memories. I know that we have touched people through our work and our play and our lives here, as they have also touched us. We have loved and been loved, and that’s what life is all about.”

PC choice for others: “I would recommend PC to others—especially recent college graduates—without hesitation. If someone is interested in an intensive intercultural living and working experience in a developing country, PC is the best ‘game’ in the business. As a PC volunteer, you are offered incredible freedom and flexibility personally and professionally. PC is also extremely committed to protecting the safety and health of its volunteers, which is a major consideration.”

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Story Source: Swathmore University

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Cape Verde



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