Madagascar: Peace Corps

Banaz Hejazi

What organization did you volunteer with, and where were you located?

I am currently volunteering with the Peace Corps in the beautiful country of Madagascar, known for its flora and fauna.

 

Why did you choose to work with the Peace Corps?

Volunteering has always been a big part of my life. I have participated in a couple of medical missions to Nicaragua and Ghana, did participated in UCLA Unicamp and have been a member of the Mentorship Program at UCLA for four years. After graduating UCLA, I knew I had to continue my passion of volunteering and applied to the Peace Corps. I was selected in Madagascar as a health volunteer.

 

Does the Peace Corps have a connection to UCLA?

There have been several recruitment fairs that have been held at UCLA, which is where I met my recruiter. I also know a few UCLA alumni that have completed a Peace Corp Service.

 

How did your experience influence you? What knowledge or insights did you gain during your time of service?

My experience has influenced me because it has shown me that my passion is in helping others. Since I am still in the midst of my service, I have so far learned a new culture, language, and (incomplete)

 

Did you experience any culture shock during your volunteering?

I have definitely experienced culture shock during my volunteering. From the minute I landed into the country of Madagascar, I knew their way of life would be very different compared to life in the States. It’s a good thing we had a couple months of training to help ease us into the culture. However, I heard that the culture shock going back to the States after two years would be more extreme.

 

What was the typical day like for you?

There is no average day for me. Each day is very different. I can have a program today and tomorrow be playing with the neighborhood kids all day. Since I am a health volunteer, I try to incorporate a health message with everything I do even if it’s simply washing your hands before you eat or after you use the bathroom. We sing a hand washing song every time we wash our hands to get the kids involved. At times, my teaching is informal, like when I lead by example and kids see me brushing my teeth in my yard or drinking clean water. Some days, I walk hours into the countryside just to teach about the importance of using latrines and how it is not sanitary to open defecate in the forest. The weekends are free days, and you can either catch me at the beach relaxing with some friends or just hanging out at home.

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Country Served Madagascar
Service Organization Peace Corps
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