The Union Recorder

Local News

March 6, 2013

Peace Corps changes life of local student

MILLEDGEVILLE — Imagine living life for two years in a third world country without clean running water, being away from family and friends, facing a language barrier and trying to get well from a parasitic disease. Those were some of the challenges 26-year-old Brandon Avery faced during his experience as a girls education and empowerment volunteer in Togo, West Africa while with the Peace Corps.

A 2009 Georgia College graduate, Avery earned a degree in philosophy and a certificate in nonprofit management from the Nonprofit Student Leadership Alliance. He also served as a Baldwin High School YES (Youth Enrichment Services) program tutor.

“While I was working for the YES program, I learned about the Peace Corps and heard a lot of good things about it and how useful it could be,” Avery said. “After the application process, it took almost a year to get in. I had to pass a health clearance, background check and interviews. They then give you a host country and you have one week to accept or decline. I went in September 2010.”

During his two-month training period, Avery experienced culture shock while living with a host family and trying to perfect his French-speaking skills in order to integrate himself into the African culture and lifestyle.

“The language barrier was the biggest obstacle for a long time. It takes quite a while to feel truly comfortable and confident in the language. Getting sick was hard because for the most part you have to deal with it alone. If you get really sick then you can go to Peace Corps office in the capital and they will take care of you, but for most things you just have to take care of yourself,” he said. “The biggest [challenge] in the end turned out to just be isolation. The distance from friends and family is something that always hurts. You never get over that feeling of loneliness; you just learn how to carry it.”

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