Jennifer Clowers begins her lecture of her experience in the Peace Corps by exclaiming a hello in the native language of Guinea, Pular. She immediately grabs the attention of all the texters, tweeters, and other Chico State students in the room.
Her journey as a volunteer in the Peace Corps began when her mother many years ago told her about her own experiences in the Peace Corps when Jennifer was growing up. This, of course, intrigued her and she knew that when it was the right time, she too would join in on this “life-changing experience,” as she describes it.
“Within the first few months, I learned so much about myself but also seeing how any one person or community can have a major change and impact,” Clowers said.
Her major impact was a two and a half journey, and it began at her first destination in West Africa, Guinea. Here she learned about their culture, traditions, and everyday personal and work life. Her resources were extremely limited and in order to stay in touch with her loved ones, she wrote many letters back to the States.
“One of the most challenging parts was dealing with the loneliness of being away and not having as much contact with home and the other volunteers,” Clowers said. “But then again, you’re living in your community and so the more you get to know people and you build those relationships, it becomes home.”
Jennifer was placed in this village due to her being fluent in French, which was one of the major languages in Guinea. This was to her advantage when it came to communication and gaining trust while building those relationships, when she assisted the women in gaining as much profit as they could by helping with their work loads.
Her time in Guinea ended after about a year when political and social unrest arose. She was moved to Niger where the differences between both villages were extreme. In Niger, her lack of resources were no longer an issue and states that she met some of the most hospitable people.
Her little time in West Africa made a major impact on not only the lives of the people she interacted and lived with but on her life as well. Not only does she have an advantage in many federal jobs within the U.S., but is now a volunteer supervisor for the Peace Corps program and efforts in the program as a whole.