I’m Mary. You might know me already or just wish you did.
I served three years as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Zambia. I spent two years living in a rural village and then decided to extend my contract for an additional year. For my third year project assignment, I worked at Kasanka National Park as a Community Relations Officer. This blog started as my way of keeping in contact with the outside world, and I found it a great way to share my adventures (and occasional misadventure) with everyone. After being back in the U.S. for three months, I started working as a Public Affairs Assistant at the national Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, DC. So then this blog focused on the adjustments from life in the Zambian bush to life in the nation’s capital. I worked there for two years, meeting some amazing people along the way. I decided it was time for a change and applied to grad school. But first, I wanted to take some time and travel a bit.
I’d never been to Europe, so I figured that would be a good place to start. I spent two months traveling in Europe: five weeks in Greece, two weeks in Italy, and one night in Albania. I updated this blog along the way, with both personal travel stories and general observations, as well as my experiences during my first time in Europe.
After my European trip, I started grad school at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois as part of the Peace Corps Fellows program, working towards a degree in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Adminstration. With one semester complete, I am looking forward to continuing to learn more about the tourism industry and how I can play a role in it. As part of my studies, I was invited to spend three weeks in China working with the Jinhua Foreign and Overseas Office developing a plan to increase tourism in the area. I also traveled to Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam as part of this trip across Asia.
Here’s a brief history: I was born and raised in Corning, a small town in southwest Iowa. I attended Iowa State University with a degree in Agricultural Education (Communications Option) in May 2008. After a brief foray into the working world, I decided to join the Peace Corps. I left for Zambia in February 2009 and was posted to a rural village in Serenje District, Central Province, Zambia in April 2009. I was a LIFE (Linking Income, Food, and the Environment) volunteer, which is under the Environment Sector and paired with the Zambian Department of Forestry. I lived and worked in my village for two years, mostly teaching farmers about sustainable methods for farming, food security, and income generation. I also dabbled in HIV/AIDS education and environmental education. Being in Zambia was an incredible experience, and I mostly loved being on the other side – working for Peace Corps to promote Peace Corps and all the great work PCVs all over the world are doing!