When Amanda Moulton arrived in the West African country of Burkina Faso as a Peace Corps volunteer in 2013, she knew she was there to teach math. She also knew she had to learn French before she could get started on teaching.
“I knew not a word of French, nothing,” Moulton said. “But I figured it out. Now I think to myself: If I can do that, I can do anything.”
Some of Moulton’s souvenirs and photos from her two-year stay in Burkina Faso are part of an exhibit organized by local returned Peace Corps volunteers that opens on Friday at Express Employment Services as part of First Friday and remains up for a month.
Kay Dixon, who served in Colombia from 1962 to 1964, is also sharing some of the art and crafts she picked up overseas.
Dixon said March First Friday is the perfect time for the exhibit to open because March is a special month for the Peace Corps.
“We celebrate the first week of March every year because that’s when the Peace Corps was formed,” Dixon said. She said the Peace Corps was formed by President John F. Kennedy on March 1, 1961.
And since then more than 200,000 volunteers have served in more than 140 countries.
Tana Dugan, who served in Turkey from 1964 to 1966 and in Nepal from 1966 to 1967, said the exhibit is a great opportunity for people to see privately owned art and to get a sense of what the Peace Corps is all about.
Silk saris from Nepal, a Thai spirit house and Colombian ruanas (ponchos) are among the many different pieces that will be on exhibit.
“These are very personal artifacts to most of us,” Moulton said. “Sometimes it’s art created by people who don’t have much – yet they still have art.”
Dugan said volunteers return with a new appreciation of how people live outside the United States.
“We tend to think of the rest of the world as underdeveloped, but it’s not,” Dugan said.
Returned Peace Corps volunteers will be on hand to talk about the exhibited items and the Peace Corps on Friday.
“No one is advocating for the Peace Corps,” Dixon said. “So we do. We want to share how valuable the experience was for us.”