Letter to the Editor: Peace Corps work shapes lives for volunteers as well as others

Farmington Daily Times

Editor: 

I appreciate Michael O’Neill’s op-ed piece (9/23/21) narrating his experience and reminding us of the importance of continuing support for this international service organization.

I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, West Africa, from 1975-77. It was there I learned to be a teacher and a world citizen. I will be forever grateful to the citizens of Foequellie of the Upper Panta Chiefdom for their wise and kind mentoring of my naïve twenty-two year old self. 

Like Dr. O’Neill, my Peace Corps service brought me to my career that lasted nearly 40 more years in New Mexico. It was through my service, I realized I wanted to be a teacher. My first 10 years in classrooms were in secondary schools at Jemez Pueblo, Laguna-Acoma High School, Wingate High School, and Tse Bit’ Ai Middle School in Shiprock. The next 30 years were teaching at San Juan College, where I had opportunity to work also in professional development for local teachers. 

I remember well one of my Peace Corps trainers back in 1975 said to us that our work overseas would affect most every decision we would make for the rest of our lives. She was right. I owe my career and any credit I got for doing it well to my Peace Corps experience.

So yes — we need to communicate our thanks to representatives in Washington, D.C., for their continuing support of the U.S. Peace Corps. 

Happy 60th to the Peace Corps. We do still need you.

Vicki Holmsten

Peace Corps Liberia 1975-1977

Professor of English (retired), San Juan College

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