When Jaclyn Zoccoli reflects back on her Peace Corps service in Liberia 50 years ago, she asks herself, “What were we able to accomplish?” When she posed that same question to her fellow volunteers of Liberia IX, they were quick to respond. Hear their response and more on this episode of the My Peace Corps Story podcast.
On this Episode:
- Nearly being attacked by army ants
- Staying connected with fellow volunteers, more than 50 years after serving in the Peace Corps
- The warmth of the Liberian smile
Jaclyn’s Peace Corps Story
Where and when did you serve? What did you do?
Peace Corps IX in Liberia. 1966 – 1968. Primary role was teaching, with of course community development, hand holding, and everything else in-between added.
Most people aren’t really aware of where Liberia is. It’s on the western coast of Africa, right by Nigeria and Ghana. It’s about the size of Missouri. It’s a very small country and it was founded by American slaves, so many of the things that they do are Americanized. Their money system is in dollars and cents and their political system, in theory, is the same as ours, though they’ve had their struggles and you’ve heard about them more recently with the Ebola problem that was pretty much centered in Liberia.
What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories?
Our parade as we were about to leave – my children of my school holding the banner of celebration for me. . . they, of course, were in the parade with “soldiers” carrying wooden guns. I reflect on their innocence in 1968, and how they loved me.
What do you miss about the Peace Corps?
I think I miss the people the most, in spite of the fact I don’t communicate with any of my students. Thier simple beautiful smile and their warm-hearted nature always make you feel comfortable. I felt comfortable there, often more there than I do in my own country.
You can walk down the street anywhere and wouldn’t be hurt, so it’s the smile it’s the warmness.
What is something you learned in the Peace Corps?
When you bond with volunteers with a common passion and give unconditional love, nothing compares to the abundance that is shared.
Do you have a favorite quote or local saying?
“No Mya” or never mind, they loved to shrug things off.
More about Jaclyn Zoccoli: