Learn more about Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV)

Peace Corps Worldwide
Voices from the Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Kentucky Volunteers (book - available in the Pogue Library Reading Room) 

Meet a RPCV

Cindy Barnett (1980-1982 - Ecuador, South America)
Senior Lecturer of Spanish, Murray State University
cbarnett@murraystate.edu
Along with the mind-opening, stimulating experience of living in another country and traveling around South America, the relationships established with the people in my village were the best part of my Peace Corps experience. Despite living in conditions of extreme poverty, they were warm, welcoming, and graciously accepting of me in their community and lives. While it was not always easy to adapt to the more relaxed and—in my view—often inefficient ways of rural Ecuador, the language and culture skills gained from those two years have had a major impact on my professional opportunities, career choices, and my life since then. I doubt that I would be where I am today if it weren’t for my service in the Peace Corps. 

Michael Basile (1965-1967 - PCV Turkey, Rural Community Development; 1974-1976 - PC Staff Trainer/Iran; 1976-1979 - Associate Peace Corps Director/Tonga)
Retired, International Studies Director, Murray State University 
mbasile@murraystate.edu
Notable highlights: Most grateful for opportunity to work in two predominantly Muslim countries, Turkey and Iran. This has become so important in today's emotion-charged world of reaction. I had my family (wife and two children) with me throughout experience in Iran, where we traveled extensively and were hosted everywhere warmly.

Janice Basile (1965-1967 - Brazil, South America)
jan@murray-ky.net
I worked for Peace Corps Washington from 1967-1968. I worked in Brazil in the school lunch program in small rural schools and in Washington DC for the school to school program. Through the school to school program I was able, while a volunteer, to assist two remote rural communities in Brazil build schools.  I traveled with Mike and our two children to Iran and the Kingdom of Tonga. 

Dr. Judy Brookhiser (1973-1974 - The Gambia, West Africa)
Professor, Recreation & Leisure, Murray State University 
jbrookhiser@murraystate.edu
My Peace Corps experience in Africa was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. Being submerged in a culture quite different from the U.S. created a world perspective that I could not have gained in any other way. You learn that not only are you not the center of the Universe, but neither is the U.S. We live on a highly diverse and complex planet. As a result of my PC experience I have stories, friends, and mementos for a lifetime. At every job interview I had following my Peace Corp service, the interviewer brought up my Peace Corps experience in a most positive light.

David Cignoni (1976-1980 - Kenya, Africa)
ESL Instructor, Murray State University
dcignoni@murraystate.edu
The Peace Corps was for me literally the best time in my life. The best part was the contact I had and knowledge I gained from the local people that I worked with. For me the most challenging thing at first was facing the stereotypes that people had of Americans and the West and that I had of others, both of which disappeared when I had more experience and when others got to know me. The experience was for me the stepping stone to an international and inter-cultural life and career. I went on to spend 11/15 years abroad from 1976-1991, and since I have been stateside, I have worked with international students and led a multicultural life. My wife is Mexican and our family is bilingual. I really think I would be an entirely different person today if I had never served in the Peace Corps!

Lyn Dunn (1978 - 1980 - Cameroon, Africa)
Retired, Murray, KY & Advisor, USAID
Lyn.dunn@gmail.com
Served as an advisor to coffee and cocoa cooperatives. Peace Corps opened many doors for me and shaped my life. It was a wonderful time in my life. I came out of the experience fluent in French. I then pursued my master's degree at an international business school and joined the State Department Foreign Service where I served for 30 years. I worked extensively in international development with USAID and continue to work as an advisor in retirement. I credit Peace Corps for putting me on that interesting career path. The challenges as a volunteer in an isolated outpost were many - eating a diet of jungle meats and fruits, isolation and transportation issues, but I overcame those and grew stronger as a result. I highly recommend Peace Corps to anyone who wants to break into international affairs, careers in development, and international business. It is the perfect starting point.

John Eads (2014-2015 - Cajamarca, Peru)
Graduate Student
jeads@murraystate.edu
The best part of my experience in the Peace Corps was the incredible relationships that I was able to build. Everyone goes into the Peace Corps wanting to give so much but in the end we all end up taking in so much more from the experience than we are able to give. I made many lifelong relationships in the Peace Corps both with fellow volunteers and with the Peruvians I was able to get to know so well. I will forever have a second family in Cajamarca, Peru and I will always carry a little piece of Peru with me wherever I go.

The most challenging part of my Peace Corps experience was learning to stay motivated in the face of adversity. For the first three months of my experience I was in training for eight hours a day with 40 other volunteers. I had an incredible amount of social interaction and fun, and was not yet faced with the task of actually developing sustainable community programs with my community counterparts. Going from this setting to my site, where I didn't know anyone and where it was seemingly impossible to meet my program goals, was very difficult. I felt alone, sad and defeated for a very long time. Overcoming these challenges, however, has made much a much stronger person and I feel readily equipped to face whatever may come my way in the future.

I believe that my Peace Corps experience has helped me in my professional pursuits by making me a more competitive candidate and by equipping me with the skills necessary to be innovative and intentional in the workplace. I no longer allow myself to give up on a project when it seems infeasible. If I can successfully help develop a prisoner re-entry program in the Peruvian Andes, I can face whatever obstacle life presents me with. I've learned to continue on in the face of certain failure. I've learned to accept my failures for what they are and view them as learning opportunities. I've learned how to take one set of skills and transfer them to totally new situations, allowing myself the opportunity to hit the ground running when presented with a new project. But most of all, I've learned that I can - and I will.

Dr. Ann Neelon (1978-1979 - Senegal, Africa)
English Professor & Director, MFA Program in Creative Writing, Murray state University
aneelon@murraystate.edu