As Peace Corps Week draws to a close,we here at Opportunity Africa would like to take a moment to reflect on the incredible role that Peace Corps volunteers have played in our organization as well as the world. 51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed the executive order that created the Peace Corps. Since then, more than 200,000 volunteers have served in 139 different countries, working on everything from AIDS awareness to environmental conservation to teaching.
“I served from 2008-2010. I was a high school English teacher in a small town called Kentzou which is in the eastern part of the country and right along the border of the Central African Republic. For me, it was an incredible two years. Teaching was a challenge due to large classes (sometimes more than 100 students in one class!) and a lack of resources (the large majority of my students did not have English books). These obstacles were compounded by the widespread feelings of apathy towards education that was pervasive throughout the community. Despite these challenges, the handful of enthusiastic and ambitious students I had in each class made it an exceptionally rewarding experience.
Having spent much of my time outside school out in the community, it was very apparent that a substantial portion of school age kids do not attend school at all. Though education is looked at as a basic right in the US, for many kids in Cameroon annual fees are too expensive. It was often these students that were out working that expressed the greatest interest in education to me and often asked me to teach them. For a relatively low cost in terms of US dollars, we can send some of these bright young students to school. While education does not necessarily guarantee these students a life of prosperity, it does open up opportunities and gives them the basic right to satisfy their innate desire to learn.
Now, almost two years after my service in Cameroon, very few days pass where I don’t think back to my time there. There are many friends and students I miss dearly. While I do not know if I will be back to live there some day in the future, my involvement in OA at least allows me to continue on with the purpose that I held as a Peace Corps volunteer to do something positive for the people there. I am confident in the massive impact these scholarships can have on the lives of the individuals who receive them.”