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The challenges are plenty but the rewards are greater


Posted on November 21, 2013 by Amy Estep '12, Conservation and Wildlife Management.

Ten months after I first applied to Peace Corps, I found myself on a plane bound for Liberia, West Africa with 39 other young and excited US citizens ready to embark on their “big adventure.” We were all assigned to be secondary math and science teachers in government high schools located all over the small, rebuilding country of Liberia that was ravished by war for over a decade beginning in the 1990’s. I knew this was going to be a big, but good, change from my time at Delaware Valley College.

Courtesy: Amy Estep Amy Estep '12 in front of class in Monrovia, Liberia

Upon arrival to the capital city, Monrovia, we attended training for two months before being sent to our sites where we were making plans to spend the next two years. I was assigned to the most southeast city you will find on a map before entering the Ivory Coast, Harper, “the land of sunshine and happiness.” For the next 24 months I will be a biology teacher at the only government run high school in the district. Classrooms have limited resources and are small in square feet but large in student enrollment, averaging 60 students per class section. Teaching tenth grade gives me an excellent opportunity to introduce these students (who have never taken a biology course previously) to many basic concepts and principles and hopefully ignite a passion for the sciences in these students. Along with teaching in the classroom, we are encouraged to create secondary projects that will benefit the community and be sustainable after we leave.

Courtesy: Amy Estep Amy Estep '12 answers a student's question.

The challenges are plenty but the rewards are greater, as with many things in life. I never considered myself a teacher before but as any educator will probably tell you, teaching a classroom of students brings moments of doubt but when a student finally “gets it” and you see a new excitement in them, it all seems to be worth it. So here is to my next two years, being a teacher, community member, and mentor in Liberia, West Africa!