My work with the Peace Corps:

I believe in service. I listen first, observe, and then help empower others to improve their quality of life through the practical application of information. I believe strongly in doing this with them, not for them. I was attracted to the Peace Corps and the opportunity it provides to work in the developing world. I received my official invitation from the U.S. Peace Corps and departed for Zambia, Africa on July 19, 2011 to work as a Community Development and Health Extension Officer. I served at post through September 2013, before accepting an extension position as the Peace Corps Volunteer Leader (PCVL) of Southern Province. I served as PCVL of Southern province until October 2014 and successfully completed my service.

I completed pre-service training and was sworn in on October 7, 2011. I was able to gain a solid working proficiency at Advanced-Mid in Icibemba after 11 weeks. During the swearing in ceremony, I was asked to give the Bemba portion of our multi-lingual speech, discussing culture and our experiences as trainees. I was posted to the village of Chisunka, Luapula Province, Mansa District, Zambia. I worked and lived 56km from Mansa in the remote African bush. I had locally available housing – a fired mud brick hut with a grass thatch roof – no running or potable water, no electricity, and a bicycle for transport. I served a catchment area of 56 kilometers by 11 kilometers and a population of approximately 9,463 Zambians.

During my primary service, I worked with local communities, NGOs, the Zambian Ministry of Health, and other governmental organizations to build capacity in sustainable development. I taught using the local language, Bemba, about HIV/AIDS, malaria control and research, opportunistic infections, water and sanitation practices and environmental health. I also taught about hygiene and preventative health, immunization, nutrition, food security, resource diversification, building linkages and facilitating cultural, managerial, economic, and environmental development. In my primary service, and then through my extension, I continually searched for ways of communicating with people that drew on their experiences and understanding so that they could deal with these complicated issues and develop sustainable practices that improved their quality of life.

I worked with the Chisunka community in Gender and Development (GAD) and Women in Development (WID), youth empowerment and reaching orphans and vulnerable children. I focused in on agriculture, encouraging food diversification and soil enrichment using locally available resources (composting), as well as water harvesting, food-drying, and animal-keeping in order to improve food security.

Projects over the two years in Chisunka included trainings, certifications, demonstrations, co-facilitations, linkages, and mentorship. Examples range from learning exchanges between HIV/AIDS task forces, hand-washing facility construction, and trainings on how to improve traditional water sources, participating in field and crop visitation days to improve food security and diversity. I started and encouraged local community members and small groups to increase awareness and develop projects to introduce food preservation and increase nutritious food production year round, to combat what is locally referred to as hunger season (November to April). I’ve worked with youth, OVC, and women’s empowerment trainings on life skills. I’ve also worked with my Zambian counterparts to support groups by holding community-based organization seminars on writing constitutions and project proposals. I taught these groups a process of problem -identification, action planning, community responsibility, and proposal writing so they can develop programs in their own right. My goal was and remains to effect empowerment, not to create a dependency.

We’ve worked on providing a youth-friendly corner at the clinic, as well as projects identified using PACA (Participatory Analysis for Community Action). Joining together, we mobilized and came together to work hand-in-hand with the Saving Mothers, Giving Life campaign to empower traditional birth attendants and safe motherhood action groups throughout the community. I supported and provided the tools and infrastructure of knowledge required by the clinic staff to create, electrify, and expand the maternity ward. Currently, US AID through ZPCT is providing resources to expand the building and create a reliable water source and storage tank for the clinic. In October of 2012 we were Honored to host Ambassador Mark C Storella in our village, he came to see first hand the integration of appropriate technology, and the housing improvements I’d made using local/trash materials. He also congratulated our work on maternal health and mortality reduction, and the communities efforts through their Safe Motherhood Action Groups.

As the VP of a non-profit organization in the US I secured the donations of a computer, 20 health focused books including Where There Is No Doctor, A Book for Midwives, and A Community Guide to Environmental Health, and 12 ‘indestructible’ soccer balls. I have distributed 2 of these special soccer balls to each school in my zone to promote youth sport, team building, life skills, and healthy play. I have also been working with the Centers for Disease Control and the Presidents Malaria Initiative on the Zambian/U.S. joint Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Malaria Net longevity study. My community and our hard work were selected in 2012 to host a film crew from Peace Corps Washington to document our work and be incorporated in future PR and media outreach. I was able to network and procure an extensive 20 GB digital library collection focused on Appropriate Technology, Agriculture, Livestock, Emergency Action Planning, Sustainable Development, Construction, and many other topics. The digital library is composed of full books, articles, pamphlets, and illustrated construction details/case studies. I have distributed this resource to NGOs and other volunteers throughout the province and country.

My Background:

I was born in Cortez, Colorado on September 25, 1987. I have an older brother who is currently working and studying in Copenhagen, Denmark. Both of my parents work in planning, community development, education, cross-cultural interface, archeology, and anthropology. From the time I was born we traveled regularly in Colorado, Arizona and Northern Mexico. When I was 8, I spent eleven months backpacking with my family through Western Europe. When I was 10, we spent another year traveling around the United States in a 32-foot 5th wheel trailer. In 2001, my brother and I accompanied my parents to Selawik, an Inupiak village 34 miles above the Arctic Circle in Alaska. We met with the local community and partnered with the local school to create museum-quality displays which documented their oral history and culture. In 2006 I graduated from Prescott High School as the President of the Key Club and as an active stage manager for a professional northern Arizona Shakespeare company.

In 2006, I was accepted into the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University. I was graduated magna cum laude in 2010. My thesis was on urban redevelopment in Milan, Italy.

I developed an internship program and was able to work at the US Consulate General in Milan, Italy in 2009. I was asked to extend my internship with the Consulate beyond my departure date for a total of 20 weeks of service. I became proficient in Italian and fell in love with Italy. Through my work there I gained an acute perception of the power and effectiveness of proper public/private interface, management, and community outreach. My experiences during my undergraduate internship abroad honed my ability to grasp overarching goals, negotiate, prioritize strategic details, and accomplish agency objectives. I learned how to create well-organized and clear action plans for providing support services. Working at the Consulate, I observed that with fruitful and nimble interaction, a result can be efficiently generated which results in a win-win situation for all stakeholders. This concept is essential in interfacing with government and both local and international organizations, especially when providing an introduction and logistical support to organization members. It has served me well in my work with the Peace Corps, the Zambian Ministry of Health, and Non-Governmental Organizations.

I am a flexible self-starter able to adapt to new languages and varied inter-cultural duties. After my work with the State department, I traveled for 4 months backpacking in 26 countries conducting independent research on urban systems, culture, sustainability initiatives, and development. This solo experience in foreign environments taught me to rely on myself. I learned to adapt to varied situations and unexpected environments, to connect with local and international hosts, and enjoy the beauty and joy of cross-cultural interface. These immersion experiences were the forge that shaped my desire and skills to work in international development.

The information and high quality of instruction at Barrett, the open conferences with world-renowned academics and professionals, my internship with the State Department, my work as Vice President of the non-profit Southwest Research and Education Services, Emergency Services Logistics at the Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross, and now the U.S. Peace Corps in Health and Community Development has given me a strong foundation in international affairs, logistics, NGO development, and global relations.

I believe that with the turmoil and change present throughout the world, it is necessary to have skills and an education that can adapt to situations as presented. My experiences have helped me develop an international skill set and strengthen my desire to work in international development. I have training in team building, mediation, negotiation, public speaking, international politics, language skills, sociology, administrative process, logistics, project planning and development, community mobilization, community development, cross cultural education, public health, and research practices.

I am a contributor and member site of the Travel Resource Network. A network of travelers, bloggers, and resources aimed at facilitating travel, cultural exchange and adventure.

I am the Vice President of Southwest Research and Education Services – a global non-profit dedicated to education and the improvement of quality of life throughout the world.