University of Wisconsin-Madison – Alumni Peace Corps Volunteer Profile
Jan. 25, 2012
· Bryant Harris, age 22, from Edina, MN; firstname.lastname@example.org
· Serving in Morocco as an English Teaching Volunteer, since Sept. 2011
· UW-Madison May 2011, B.A. in Middle East Studies and certificate in Global Cultures
Bryant with his host family brother with town in the background
Main project/secondary projects
I currently live and work in a 70,000 person town, north of Marrakech. As a youth development volunteer, my primary place of work is my community's youth house. I have begun to integrate into the community by teaching English to the youth. I also plan to start teaching professional English classes at a local community development association funded by various NGOs. Lastly, I hope to start teaching at an empty store within my neighborhood, because many people who live in the same area that I do want to learn beginner English. In late February, I will begin my community development projects, with a focus on youth. Two main areas that I want to start addressing are dental hygiene practices and small business development projects with youth to address the very high unemployment rate in my community.
How did UW-Madison help prepare you for international service, or lead you to Peace Corps?
UW-Madison really prepared and motivated me to work overseas while giving me ample opportunities to volunteer my time in Madison itself. The school does a very good job supporting and fostering student organizations such as AIESEC, which allows students to pursue internship opportunities abroad. Because of AIESEC - Madison, I had the chance to send several students on international internships throughout my time at UW-Madison and pursue one myself in Oman. Since I was a Middle East Studies major, my actual courses at UW really fired me up to actually travel to and work in the Middle East and North Africa.
What/who inspired me to serve in the Peace Corps?
I've had Peace Corps in the back of my mind for a long time, before I even started college. During my senior year, I realized that this would likely be the only point in my life where I was not tied down to a particular place, job or person, so something just clicked and I realized that if I didn't do the Peace Corps right then, chances are I may never have done it.
What are your career aspirations?
I have a general idea of what I want to do with my life but I'm still figuring out exactly what type of career would be most conducive to that. Right now, I'm thinking I would like to work in the not-for-profit sector on issues related to human rights, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. I'm also keeping a career with the State Department or UN in the back of mind.
Major ways Peace Corps Service in Morocco has changed my perspectives
I think, so far, the most valuable lesson I've learned is that I still have so much more to learn. I think a general rule in life is that you can't learn anymore until you accept that you don't know as much as you think you do. I think a lot of times, people become complacent and are unwilling to change their worldview or acknowledge that their knowledge of certain topics is shakier than they'd like to admit.