The magazine for Western Washington University

Vikings Abroad

Alumni share stories of their work in Rwanda, Albania, Botswana, Senegal, Armenia, Ethiopia, Fiji and the Philippines

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'It's about becoming a family'

"Life is not about ‘finding’ yourself, but about allowing people to help find you. To let them in and to be hurt, be completely taken aback by their bluntness, to hear something about yourself you didn’t realize was true until it came from the mouth of another."

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Leaping for luck and love

One chilly Saturday afternoon after church, a group of ninth-grade boys showed up at Erin Middleton’s door and told her to hurry up for a chance to jump over burning coals.

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There is No Typical Day in the Peace Corps. Read more.


An 'older,' wiser volunteer fulfills a dream

“Peace Corps is heavily recruiting older folks like me these days,” says Robert Ranger. “When PC began they did many projects in countries that involved putting in schools or water lines or physical work around infrastructure. Today’s issues in these countries are much more complicated and, to my way of thinking, need and can use the skills of us older folks.”

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Encouraging women to get out and exercise

When the Albanian women came to their first exercise class wearing silk blouses and high-heeled shoes, Emily Thorn knew she was on the right track.

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Western is one of the nation's top suppliers of Peace Corps volunteers. Read more.


Grieving away from home, but not alone

Tracy (Slingland) Asher worked with the Ministry of Health on projects related to preschool education as well as sanitation and nutrition, but she continued to wrestle with whether she was in the right place.

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An American man in Africa considers his ancestry in China

“While in Senegal, I was thinking about how I had always wanted to go to China, learn the language and discover where my ancestors came from,” says Byron Yee. “I had already gone to Senegal, submerged myself in a culture and languages in which I had no personal history. I should be able to do the exact same thing in China.”

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A healing nation values service among neighbors

Umuganda is a national day of service bringing neighbors together to socialize and build schools, houses, roads – and a stronger sense of community. It’s one of many ways Rwanda hopes to prevent another atrocity like the 1994 Rwandan Genocide that killed as many as 1 million people.

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A sweet business deal

Most Peace Corps Volunteers have sharp cravings for the food comforts of home. But Helen Jones’ wish for a popsicle in the middle of Ethiopia gave her a money-making idea.

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