Guest Column: Greetings from a Peace Corps volunteer

Chelsea Dulaney

Have you ever lived in a place where it was hot like summer all year long? Where you had more mangoes in your possession than you could eat in a day? Or where people chose to eat spicy fish (with hard scales) for breakfast? I am fortunate enough to have had all of these experiences! Why, you might ask? I am currently a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Guyana.

Guyana is located in South America about six degrees north of the equator. Because of its location, it is considered to be part of CARICOM, the Caribbean Community; therefore, it is filled with a lot of character and spice. It has mountains, ocean, plains, luscious rainforests and the highest single drop waterfall in the world.

Before venturing to Guyana, I assumed that it was a Spanish speaking country for obvious reasons. Such as it’s placement around other Spanish speaking countries, like Venezuela. Guyana’s official language is English; however, most of the people in the local villages speak Creolese, which is a derivative of standard American English. The language also changes depending on which part of the country you are located in.

My Peace Corps experience has been far from boring. Guyana has kept me occupied in more ways than one. First off, it has a diverse mixture of people and cultures. Back when the British ruled the country, people came from India, Africa and Asia to work as indentured servants or slaves. After gaining independence in 1966, the people who travelled from other countries simply stayed in Guyana, in conjunction with the native people known as the Amerindians, and soon the many cultures meshed as one and became proud to call it their home. Because of all the diverse cultures, my experiences have also been diverse. The culture exchange has been really beneficial for me. The Guyanese have taught me so much, especially in terms of cooking. Dishes such as cook-up rice and multiple kinds of curry have kept my American taste buds completely satisfied. I have also learned firsthand about the Guyanese warm welcome and hospitality. So many people that I have met are quick to invite you into their homes and share a meal with you. I have not even been in Guyana for a full year, but I already feel as though I can call it my home.

Right now, I am working in a primary school teaching phonics to children in grades one, two, three and select seventh graders. Some of the other Peace Corps volunteers and I are also working with the teachers and sharing teaching methods that have worked for us in the United States, in hopes to create a sustainable change. I am also in the midst of creating an after school football (soccer) club and a girls empowerment group to get the youth involved in a healthy after school environment. I hope to have shared some of my American culture and expertise with the Guyanese as I continue to learn and grow from the people of Guyana.

Chelsea Dulaney graduated from Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She now serves as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South America. Contact her at [email protected].