BC Alumna Serving in Peru

Read about BC alumna Anne Libera’s experiences in the Peace Corps while serving in Peru.

Name: Anne Libera
Age: 23
U.S. hometown: Simsbury, CT

Degree and graduation date:  BA in International Studies with a concentration in Economics, May 2011

Country of service: Peru

Peace Corps job title: Community Based Environmental Management- Environmental Educator

Short primary and secondary project descriptions: CBEM has three goals: waste management (building landfills and promoting recycling), natural resource management (reforestation) and environmental education (teaching in the schools).  Each volunteer can fulfill these goals in any creative manner.

My primary projects include:

  • Supervisingan environmental education organization comprised of 20 elementary and high schools in Peru.  We work with teachers, training them on how to teach subjects like climate change, reforestation, waste management, recycling, healthy lifestyles, sexual education, etc.  We also put on big events like a recycled fashion show, parades on earth day, tree plantings, science fairs, movie nights, etc. to promote environmental education within the larger community.
  • An hour long weekly radio show called “La Hora Ecologica” or the Ecological Hour where we talk about a myriad of themes including how to reduce your carbon footprint, organic food, climate change, trash, recycling, science, ecosystems, water, health, etc.  We reach a lot of people through this initiative.  We are also trying to expand into television and are currently working with the local channel to create service announcements.
  • An ecotourism project where we are trying to develop a river which has water all year round into a tourist “beach” destination.  My site does not have a developed tourism sector so this would bring much needed money into the community.
  • Developing a sanitary landfill for a community over 10,000 people.  Right now the trash is thrown onto the streets, swept up nightly and tossed into the dry riverbed or burned.  Both options are extremely dangerous for the health of the environment and the general population.  The community could also earn a lot of money if they had a recycling service.

My secondary projects include:

  • Teaching summer school for elementary students.  My classes include English as a Second Language, recycled arts and crafts and swimming lessons.
  • Working with the local zoo (confiscated exotic pets and an endangered bird rehabilitation center) to promote its marketing and attract an increase in patronage.

How did Boston College help prepare you for Peace Corps service?  I was involved with volunteerism all throughout my four years at Boston College.  I went on two service trips- one to Nicaragua assisting with a microfinance project and another to the Jemez Reservation in New Mexico.  I also took PULSE and volunteered weekly at the local Boys and Girls Club in Allston/Brighton.  During my senior year I taught English as a Second Language to immigrant adults at the Boston College Neighborhood Center.  My Jesuit education taught me that service is just as important as studying a textbook.  I feel as though I get more out of my volunteerism than the people I serve!  It truly is men and women for others in Boston College and I wanted to continue this out of university.  I applied for the Peace Corps immediately after returning from studying abroad in Ecuador (where I also volunteered in a daycare center for children whose parents were in jail).

Why would you recommend Peace Corps to BC seniors?  The Peace Corps offers you the opportunity to integrate into new cultures, learn new languages, serve others and explore what you want to do in life.  The slogan for the Peace Corps “Life is calling.  How far will you go?” can be a joke amongst volunteers but it is pretty true.  The Peace Corps is probably going to be the toughest job you will ever love.  It is a roller coaster ride with highs and lows, successes and failures but at the end of the day I love what I am doing and there is nowhere else I would rather be.  I love my host family and I have the flexibility to explore whatever project I want and the community necessitates. This is also an amazing opportunity to start accumulating experience in the international development sector.

How has Peace Corps shaped your life and career? I want to stay in South America to live and work!  I love it here- the friendly people, delicious food, unique culture, amazing biodiversity, stunning mountaineering and the continuous adventure.  I don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life but I still have more than a year left to decide on my next adventure.  I might decide to be an expatriate at age 23!!   I might stay working in the international development sector.  Who knows?- but that is what is so amazing.  The whole world is open to us, and if you are open to anything, than each day is a gift and a surprise.

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