Being Color Brave in the Peace Corps

I make a habit of checking out the blogs of my fellow volunteers often. Even though we’re in the same, relatively small country, our experiences span the gamut.

This is because we work in different sectors (TEFL or community development). This is because we live in different places (village or city, with a Macedonian or Albanian family). This is also just because we are different people. In this post about featuring links to other volunteers’ blogs, I included a link to an incredible Ted Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about the danger of a single story. My blog is only a representation of my life, so today I’m happy to feature a link to my fellow volunteer Monique. There aren’t many people of color in my volunteer cohort and for some Macedonians, these volunteers have been the first people of color ever seen outside of television and movies. That’s tough. It’s a lot of pressure to be the person seemingly responsible for educating an entire community on race or to have people ask, “but where are you really from?” There are challenges that as a white volunteer, I will never experience and can never truly understand. I can only try to empathize.

I have really enjoyed reading Monique’s blog, not only for the writing style and voice, but because of her openness and honesty about her service. Enjoy!

serving while black

I was selected to attend the Intercultural Competence, Diversity and Inclusion training with the Peace Corps staff and select volunteers. The training took place from May 23 to May 27, and was the first of its kind in Peace Corps history. Macedonia was one of the first Peace Corps countries selected for the training, and although it was geared toward staff, an application to attend was also extended to volunteers. Eventually, eight volunteers were selected as “resource volunteers,” but I had my doubts that I would be one of them.

You see, I have a history with the Peace Corps staff; a history rooted in the denial and minimization of my lived experiences with racism and xenophobia, as a black woman in Macedonia. A history filled with staff who, perhaps tried to help, but seemed without context or understanding for my words and perspective. I have a history with the…

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