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1967: Isabella Burns served in Cameroon in Obala (two years) and Yaounde (summer 68) beginning in 1967
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Isabella Burns can be contacted at isabelaainternetcdsdcom
Country of Service: Cameroon
Training Group: Boston University - Quebec province, summer 1967
Cities you served in: Obala (two years) and Yaounde (summer 68)
Arrival Year: 1967
Departure Year: 1969
Work Description: taught English in a lycee and worked in mental hospital
Bring us up to date on your life after the peace corps:
I discovered that I loved languages, which I did not know before, as I was a journalism major in college. I went to Paris after the Peace Corps, taught English in a French company and went back to university to get a "licence" in French and Russian literature. I then joined the United Nations, passed a worldwide exam for editors, and worked in New York, Bangkok, Baghdad and Amman for over 20 years. I met my Syrian husband, who also worked for the UN, in Baghdad. I had my first, and only, child at age 45 here in Ashland, Oregon after my husband and I were evacuated from Baghdad in the summer of 1990. We are now retired (I still edit at home for the UN parttime) and raising our daughter here in Ashland. I have to say that during many difficult times in my life (such as when I was trapped in Baghdad in August 1990), I fortified myself by saying that I could survive anything if I made it through two years in the African bush. I am prouder of having been in the Peace Corps than of anything else I have ever done. I think that Africa gave me more than I was able to give back: I learned who I really was.
Any thoughts you have now looking back on peace corps days?:
I now - at age 56 - have many more "life skills" than I did at age 21, when I went to Cameroon. I think I could be a better teacher now, and perhaps be of greater help to the mental patients I worked with in my summer job. However - and this is the reason most volunteers are young - I do not know now if I would have survived the severe attack of malaria I had, or if I could now be as tolerant of the mice-size bugs, the lack of electricity or running water. However, I would love to see Cameroon again.
Anyone you are looking for or would like to hear from?:
From my Peace Corps group: Steve and Kathy Weed; George Cass; Mary Hausbeck; Will Smalzer.
Any message for returned volunteers?:
I think that the Peace Corps experience can change your life, and lead to discover the best - and worse - in you.
Originally posted: August 23, 2002
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