Marine Corps to Peace Corps, Josh Guerrero, The Gambia 2012-2014

Before serving his country as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Josh Guerrero served in the Marine Corps. We talk about his Peace Corps service, the transition from combat boots to flip-flops, and essentialism.

Photo from Josh’s Story

Josh Guerrero’s Peace Corps Story

Where and when did you serve? What did you do?

I served in The Gambia in West Africa from 2012 to 2014 as part of Peace Corps’s education sector. I worked as a Primary Teacher Trainer at the Basic Cycle School (grades K-8) in Baja Kunda. A large village in the eastern side of the country along the north bank of the River Gambia. There I worked alongside the teachers to help them improve their teaching methods and classroom management skills. This was done through workshops, classroom observations, and one-on-one instruction.

What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories?

My favorite memory is easily how I helped my host family become more aware of the dangers of malaria. They were unfamiliar with it at first. But after sharing some knowledge with my host father, he took the initiative and got a mosquito net for every bed in the house. He even got my baby host sister, Isatou, a small net for herself. Which was shaped like a crock pot lid that they placed over her as she slept. It just warmed my heart whenever I saw her sleeping safely underneath it!

What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories?

There are a lot! The intense heat, multiple illnesses, and sleepless nights all come to mind. Though I’d have to say that my least favorite memory would probably be the adjustment to being back home after returning from my service. I had changed a lot during my two years in The Gambia, and who I had become did not fit in very well with the place that I called home. And it did not take very long until I wanted to move abroad again.

What do you miss about Peace Corps?

I miss the simplicity! With the basic style of living that I had in my village, I did not have to worry about things like bills, gas for my car, or any of the other stressful things that come with first world living. This led me to focus on other beneficial things like reading, exploring in and around my village, and physical training.

What is something you learned in the Peace Corps?

Going along with my answer to the previous question, I would say that essentialism is one thing that I took away from my experience. When I came home I cleaned house and got rid of so much stuff that I felt that I no longer needed. Most of it I had donated. And I’ve become much more happy by having less material possessions. Now every time I travel I only need a carry-on, and in my recent move to Florida, I was able to fit all the things that I wanted to bring in my sedan.

Do you have a favorite quote or local saying?

Not really a quote, but I always liked hearing “An wujam”, which means “Good morning” in Sarahule. These were the first words that I heard every morning, mostly from my host father or my younger host siblings.

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