Xavier Magazine

Lessons from the Peace Corps

Jenny Rulon, a 2009 graduate of the Philosophy, Politics and the Public program, went to work for the Peace Corps in the Mopti region of Mali in North Africa until forced to leave for security reasons. Her work involved reforestation and gardening. The following is an excerpt from her blog on life in Mali.

“I worked a lot with environmental education, agricultural techniques and gardening. My biggest project was securing a grant for the construction of a community garden. My village provided a well and in-kind labor. The grant provided a fence to keep animals out, gardening tools and improved seeds formulated specifically for the West African environment. We started a tree nursery of moringa trees, whose leaves can be made into a sauce that is a super-food: more vitamin C than an orange, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, etc.

“I also conducted weekly public health demonstrations on a wide variety of topics: hand-washing with soap, improved nutrition, malaria prevention and treatment, HIV/AIDS prevention. And we held a girls empowerment day to encourage girls to learn to read, stay in school and develop meaningful career paths.

“I returned from the Peace Corps in February due to security reasons. Over a period of two months, a man from my village tried to break into my house multiple times. After the sixth incident, Peace Corps administrators told me that since I only had four months left in my service, and they could not resolve the issue, I could end my service early with full benefits. It was very hard to leave, but I think my situation serves to show the universality of the human experience: there are bad people everywhere. There

are also good people everywhere. I was very blessed.”

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