About

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog, and all links appearing on this page, do not represent the positions, views or intents of the U.S. Government, the United States Peace Corps or the United States Department of State.

This is my record of my personal journey in the Peace Corps and my life afterwards. I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Ghana and Foreign Service Officer.

I served as an Agriculture Volunteer from 2011 to 2013. I worked with cashew farmers to educate about business literacy, improved farming practices, and association building. I also worked with SAP Research on a smartphone application project that allows electronic cashew purchases providing transparency in the buying process. You can find out more about our work here: http://www.peacecorps.gov/media/forpress/press/2379/

After my Peace Corps service, I wanted to continue my dream of giving back and providing opportunities to others. I took the Foreign Service written exam in June 2013 and passed the Foreign Service Oral Assessment in January 2014. I joined the 178th Foreign Service Generalist class in June, 2014.

I graduated with a degree in marketing in May 2010. I have worked in the natural gas and advertising industries before joining Peace Corps. 

23 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi,
    I stumbled over your blog while looking for any applicants leaving for Uganda in Aug. I accepted my invite for business advising as well. I’m super excited and nervous. I hope you get the good news soon!
    ~erin

  2. Hi! Every emotion and post you have written so far has been my experience as well! I too am leaving this year (Nov) for business development in Africa (Guinea). I appreciate your raw truthfulness about your feelings and thoughts. I am going through all the same emotions, one moment I am crying my eyes out and the next I am so excited. My application process was similar to yours, down to the budget cuts email, so it is nice to know that another soon-to-be PCV is feeling the same way I do. Best of luck in Ghana!!!

    • Thanks! I am glad you like the blog. I try not to hold back on what I am feeling, because I do know that someone else is going through the same thing. It is always nice to know you are not alone 🙂

  3. Greetings from Salt Lake City, Utah! It is 2:48AM as I’m typing this, couldn’t sleep, and I stumbled upon your blog after searching “Peace Corps and dating” because I’m genuinely curious hahaha! Been reading your blog for over an hour and love it, now I want to read from the very first post! You know what’s crazy though? I will also be going to Ghana as a PCV and working in the agriculture sector, staging is Sept. 30 and work officially begins in December 2013 after training (preaching to the choir here).

    What I’d like to know is what are the odds of us meeting each other, I mean, our time will overlap and we will both in Ghana at the same time (though you’re leaving in December)? It’d be so AWESOME to be able to meet the author of this awesome blog IN PERSON. Holy moly!

    This was from your March 20, 2011 post: “I am officially addicted to Peace Corps blogs. I start to shut my computer down at night, then I think – oh, let me just check one more!”

    Now I could officially say the same about YOUR blog, I want to read as much about your personal experiences/challenges in Ghana and hope to learn a few thing or two (or hundreds). In fact, I would love it if we could keep in touch via email if you don’t mind doing that…

    Please and thank you! 🙂
    ST

  4. Good Day GirlFawkes,

    Sorry to bother you. My name is Ray Blakney and I am a RPCV from Mexico. I am working on a 3rd goal project with the PC regional offices and the main office in DC to try to create an online archive to keep the language training material made all over the world from getting lost. I have created a sub-section on my website with all the information I have been able to get to date (from over the web and sent to me directly by PC staff and PCV’s). I currently have close to 100 languages with ebooks, audios and even some videos.

    The next step for this project is that I am trying to get the world out about this resource so that it can not only be used by PCV’s or those accepted into the Peace Corps, but also so that when people run across material that is not on the site they can send it to me and I can get it up for everybody to use. I was hoping that you could help getting the word out by putting a link on this on your site at:

    https://mapya.wordpress.com/collection-of-best-posts/

    so that people know it is there. There should be something there for almost everybody. It is all 100% free to use and share. Here is the page:

    http://www.livelingua.com/peace-corps-language-courses.php

    Thanks for any help you can provide in making this 3rd goal project a success. And if anybody in your group has some old material they can scan or already have in digital form, and want to add to the archive, please don’t hesitate to pass them my email. Thanks and have a great day.

    Ray Blakney
    blakney.ray@gmail.com

  5. Hello GirlFawkes
    One of the very honest and informative blogs that I read so far. I am 46 year old (single) guy and my younger daughter will be going to college this year. Always wanted to give back to the community and do something useful with my life. I had a very rosy picture of Peace Corps and after reading through a few blogs, I come to realization what I am signing up for. I am really grateful for your blog for enlightening me 🙂 I put my nomination to serve starting next year.

    I hope that you adjusted to the “American ways” now and enjoying your career. Once again thank you very much.

    • Gan,
      I’m glad you found my blog enlightening. I think one of the most important parts of applying for Peace Corps is managing expectations. It truly sets the tone for your entire service. Peace Corps is an absolutely incredible experience, but it is difficult (and it should be). There were days that tested me, but I am forever grateful for the lessons and experiences Peace Corps provided me.
      Good luck with the application process! Remember, Peace Corps (and life too!) is what you make of it.

      I have my days where readjustment slips, but it’s coming along. 🙂

  6. Hi GirlFawkes,

    I tried reblogging your “Four Reasons” post and it didn’t work so I tried it again. D’oh! It appeared twice as a comment to the post. Would you please have a look behind the curtain and delete one of them? Then, despite being in your comments twice, it did not show up as a reblog on my site. I went ahead and made my own entry to look like a reblog. I made its link match the first of my two reblog comments on your post, so you can delete the second one.

    • Done! Thanks for the heads up. I hope it all works now. Thanks for sharing my post with a wider audience. I think a lot of people just don’t know that there is a huge network of terribly awesome RPCVs out there looking to be part of a worthwhile organization.

      • Umm… thanks. But now they’re both gone. Could you check in the “trash” or “pending” comments and put one of them back? I’m glad to share your post – it’s bright and funny and addresses a serious matter for so many of our friends.

  7. Greetings from a future Ghana ag PC volunteer! So happy to stubmle upon your blog — it is extremely informative, concise, funny and poignant. I’m currently going through the final medical clearance while making pack lists, wish lists, reading about Ghana etc. Needless to say, I can’t wait for my adventure to start.
    (FYI – that Cashew Initiative press release was published on my birthday – great sign, eh?).
    Cheers,
    Anastasia

    • Congratulations on your Ghana invitation! You truly are in for a wonderful adventure. I am so proud of the work of Ghana RPCVs and PCVs in the cashew sector. Hopefully you’ll have an opportunity to contribute as well! Good luck and remember to enjoy your experience as your own. Don’t accept anyone’s judgements about your service. It is yours and yours alone.

  8. Hi,

    Reading your blog has been enjoyable and extremely informative. This August 2014, I will be travelling to Ghana by myself to explore smallholder agriculture as part of a post-graduate fellowship. I was wondering if you had any contacts with farmers or organizations from your experience as a agricultural volunteer that you would be willing to share with me. Best of luck in the foreign service! Feel free to contact me at gottschalkjl@hendrixedu.

  9. Hello, and congratulations on all you have accomplished! I stumbled across your blog because I want to do all the things you’ve done, and am in the process of doing so, but have had quite a few bumps in the road. I started applying to Peace Corps Master’s International in early 2011. I had a medical issue in my clearance but eventually finished all my coursework for my Master’s in Public Administration (except for the six credits of internship that I’ll get for Peace Corps service), got medically cleared and assigned to a community development program in Ukraine, departing March 24, 2014. Ukraine became too politically unstable for Peace Corps, and early in March I was reassigned to community development in Azerbaijan, departing April 2, 2014. On April 1, the day before my scheduled flight to staging, I received a call that the government of Azerbaijan was no longer interested in hosting the program. So I was reassigned to community development Kenya, to depart September 28. 2014. I got a call on June 10 that Kenya is now too politically unstable. So I am now in the process of choosing my fourth assignment. I’ve been offered an Agriculture Adviser position in Ghana, departing October 5; a School and Community Liaison for for Life Skills postition in Botswana, departing August 5; an HIV/AIDS Outreach Coordinator position in South Africa leaving in January; and a Youth Development program in Morocco departing in January. None of these are in what I would consider a field in which I have any particular interest or background, though I know they all generally have capacity building aspects and I will likely end up working with NGOs no matter what I’m doing or where. Two of them are in a timeframe that will necessitate appealing to the provost for an extension on my degree. In terms of personal needs, I would really like to live in a country that has relatively easy access to fruits and vegetables and an environment in which I can safely jog on a regular basis – and I don’t feel that any of these countries rank very high on either of those scales. And honestly I’ve had so many letdowns at this point that I am having a difficult time working up much enthusiasm for any of them.

    Sorry for all the downer stuff, but the past few months have been the pits. And then I was so tickled when I found your blog! My career goals are, very specifically, exactly what you are doing and have done. I will be studying for the FSO exam while I’m in the Peace Corps and I would love (LOVE) to be a political FSO “when I grow up.” And you’re doing it. And you were an agriculture volunteer in Ghana. So that makes me feel like the title doesn’t particularly matter.

    So I want to know your thoughts. I’d like to know what you think about how your title as a PCV affects the trajectory of your career. I’d like to know your thoughts on whether it’s safe to run in Ghana, and whether it’s possible to maintain a relatively healthy, plant-based diet. And other random thoughts. I’ve read as much of your blog as I can in the two days since I’ve found it, but by no means all of it. Please direct me to anything you think would be relevant and helpful for making this decision.

    Sorry for blowing up your blog, and thank you so much for any time you can find to respond to this. And again, congratulations on your truly amazing accomplishments!

    • Thanks Danielle for commenting! I’m glad you found my blog. Ghana is an amazing program. If your masters is in PA and you want to be politically coned, agriculture actually fits in pretty well. Ghana PCVs receive Feed the Future funding, which is focused on food security. There is actually another guy in my A-100 class that worked on the Feed the Future initiative from a policy standpoint. Even though I was an ag volunteer, I made my assignment my own. The Foreign Service doesn’t care what your Peace Corps title was, it cares about what you learned from it. The core skills you learn from being a Peace Corps Volunteer are much more valuable than actually having incredibly relevant work experience. Like I said in one of my latest posts, FSOs are hired because we know how to learn. Plus, most of the people I know in Peace Corps just made up their own relevant job titles. Much like you make up your own job.

      Is it safe to run? Yes. You will likely be followed by children or stray dogs (not dangerous). Often the soccer clubs at schools will run in the morning. I would throw in my headphones and go for a run. It was the only time I could mentally get away. My friend trained for a marathon in his tiny village. Accra actually has a marathon too in September.

      You can be a vegetarian in Ghana if you want, just as long as you don’t care if soup is cooked with meat stock. Are veggies available? Yes. Most are seasonal, but cabbage, cucumbers, and carrots are available year round. If you are in the far north, it can be hard to get sometimes just because of travel, but they are available. Fruits are plentiful and the best you’ll ever get. The pineapple is white and the perfect amount of sweet and juicy. Mango season makes me cry when I think about it, practically magical. The local bananas put American bananas to shame. So while it is possible to maintain a healthy diet, you have to make an effort to go to the market frequently.

      Ghana is a wonderful country full of wonderful opportunities. You make of it what you will.

  10. Thanks so, so much for your response! It puts my mind at ease. I know in my heart that no matter where I go it will work out, but with so many variables and an infinity of research to potentially do on all these countries it’s easy to feel a bit of analysis paralysis and just get blah about it.
    I appreciate you, and I’ll be following your next adventures. All the best of luck to you!

  11. Welcome to the Foreign Service! I’ve been a PD-coned FSO since 2003. Your posts about transitioning from PC to A-100 ring very true to me. I got the call to join the 113th A-100 shortly after returning from PC Cote d’Ivoire (2001-2002; evacuated). It was as amazing, intense, overwhelming, and satisfying as you point out. Don’t worry about the down moments; they are bound to happen — and, although they may not say it, many of your colleagues are having similar moments. Fully embrace the moments when you geek out over being in the Foreign Service; it IS cool AND exciting to be a diplomat! Best of luck with Flag Day tomorrow!
    I found your blog via a link from Leslie Bassett’s Smart Leadership blog (I encourage you to subscribe, if you haven’t already.)
    — Megan

  12. Hello,

    I was reading through your blog because I’m interested in being in the Foreign Service. I have a project for my college English class where I have to interview people that are in your chosen career field (and mine is in the Foreign Service). I was wondering, if you had the time if I could send you a list of about 20 questions more or less regarding your career in the Foreign Service? I see that you have peace corps experience too, if you wouldn’t mind maybe I could ask you a few questions about the peace corps as well? If you think you would be able to help me out for my school project, please let me know I would really appreciate the help. My e-mail is kylecharron88@yahoo.com

    Thanks,
    Kyle Charron

    • Hi Kyle,

      Arabic is rather taxing and takes us most of my time, but I’d be happy to answer a few questions. I don’t think I could answer 20 though! Throw them on here and maybe someone else will find them useful too!

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