Fresh off the Island – Chad Beatty, Vanuatu 2016-19
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Chad only recently returned home from his Peace Corps service in Vanuatu. With the sand barely out of his shoes, he talks about living two years on a remote island followed by a third year in Port Vila.
Photos from Chad’s Service
Chad Beatty’s Peace Corps Story
Where and when did you serve? What did you do?
I served as a Literacy Project volunteer in Vanuatu from 2016-2019. I was placed in Naviso village, East Maewo island for my first two years and then I extended for an extra year where I took a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader role in the office located in the capital of Port Vila.
What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories?
One morning my host dad came and woke me up telling me to follow him. As we came down to the nakamal, I saw a pig tied to a tree and the whole community was waiting for me. I went on to kill the pig, which is a “kastom” ceremony, to gain rank and acceptance into the tribe. I had been at site for 5 months or so at this time, so it was a sign for me that I was going to be okay and I was being accepted into the community.
What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories?
I don’t have too many bad memories from service. However, I was in a very remote site, which lacked medical resources. I saw people die that wouldn’t have if they were in the capital and had access to better medicine. That was really hard for me.
What do you miss about Peace Corps?
I miss everything. But it’s still the people that I think about the most. I miss my friends and family that I found in Vanuatu. I’m real grateful for my experience but it was really hard to leave them.
What is something you learned in the Peace Corps?
Peace Corps taught me a lot, and I’m still peeling the onion of lessons learned. I’ve only been back for 6 weeks, so I’m still learning something everyday from my time in the Pacific. One of my biggest takeaways would be how to be vulnerable. Since I was in a village with no stores and not much outside food coming in, I was supported by my host family and their gardens. They showed me so much love and kindness in letting me in the family, and I’ll forever be grateful for them.
Do you have a favorite quote or local saying that you’d like to share?
Laef blong yumi i stap long graon. = Our life is in the ground. A saying that shows the power of mother nature in terms of subsistence farming.