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What I Learned in Guyana

Written by Chris Miller, '08
May 3, 2011

As the small 12 seat plane descended into the jungles of Northwest Guyana, I looked at one of my fellow Peace Corps volunteers, thinking to myself that after 11 hours of nervous anticipation, I had finally arrived at my home for the next two years of my life. Over the course of the next few weeks, I slowly but surely began acclimating to my community, by making a deliberate effort to listen and learn from the people I was tasked to serve.  

This, in turn, gave me the chance to assess the needs of my community and how I could best be of service to them. After speaking with some of the primary school teachers, I realized the teachers and students throughout the region had a strong desire to learn Spanish.  

In a few short weeks, I was working with 45 teachers in a pilot Spanish program that allowed me to build their knowledge and human capacity. Over the course of the next two years, I’ve had the honor and privilege to work with more than 150 teachers throughout the region, teaching them Spanish content and empowering them to take that into their respective classrooms.  

In addition to the Spanish program, I had the chanceto raise funds back in the United States to revitalize a learning resource center in my community. Through people’s generous contributions we were able to renovate the building’s infrastructure and buy new resource materials for the center.  

Reflecting on my two years in the Peace Corps and what led me to decide to serve, there is no doubt in my mind that my education at Seattle University played a significant role by not only teaching me about injustices in world, but also showing me that the most effective way to positively impact society is through advocating and helping those who lack a voice.  

Whether I was in the classroom or involved in other activities in Guyana, Seattle University created and fostered in me an awareness of the world and how I could critically engage with it.  

The author appears in a classroom in Guyana in the photo above.