Update from Botswana: Global Health Student Reports on Peace Corps Assignment

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PC Botswana Swearing In

Global Health graduate student and Peace Corps Volunteer Jessica Chambless recently reported from Makopong, Botswana, a village in the Kalahari Desert on the South African border of Botswana where she is serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Jessica is serving in the Peace Corps through the Peace Corps Masters International (PCMI) program, along with six other COPH graduate students.

In a recent blog posting, Jessica discussed her first experience as a camp counselor at a GLOW camp: 

This past weekend a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer organized a GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) camp at the primary school I work at. Peace Corps volunteers and counterparts stayed at the school all weekend with Junior Secondary school girls, that is, freshmen and sophomore high school girls. We held sessions and played games that focused on self-esteem, mental health, leadership, teenage pregnancy and STIs/HIV, gender based violence, and negotiation skills. While the logistics of the camp were really stressful, taking part in teaching the girls these necessary skills was amazing.  During the camp we had a question box that the girls could put questions in if they were uncomfortable asking in front of everyone. Through this question box girls were able to ask questions about sensitive topics and questions that related to their personal experiences. For me, the question box really reinforced the importance of the GLOW camp because it is crucial the girls learn the information provided at the camp and for some it may be the only time they get to talk about these topics openly.  

According to the Peace Corps, the first Camp GLOW was established by Peace Corps Volunteers in Romania 15 years ago, and since 1995, Volunteers in 60 countries have established similar programs to promote the empowerment of women. Former Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams described the camps as “a stellar example of the legacy of Peace Corps service,” and many of our COPH graduate students serving as Peace Corps Volunteers have helped to continue the tradition by participating as counselors and mentors in camps in their countries of service. 

For more information about the Peace Corps Master’s International Program at the USF College of Public Health, visit http://health.usf.edu/publichealth/peacecorpsmi.html or contact Program Coordinator Stephen Church (schurch1@health.usf.edu) or Program Co-Coordinator Barbara Kennedy (bkennedy@health.usf.edu).