Human Geo teacher works with Peace Corps

Madeline Smyser and Linnea Kennedy

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From the rural streets of West Africa to the hallways of Vandegrift, AP Human Geography teacher Sarah Mogab has touched the lives of people all around the world. In 2003, Mogab made the courageous decision to join the Peace Corps and spent two years of her life serving the families of a small village in Mali, Africa.

“I wanted the experience of living somewhere for a long time overseas,” Mogab said. “I was excited about the possibility of going and getting to spend a longer time with one particular group of people and one particular culture. The volunteer aspect of it was also very appealing to me. At the time I wanted to go into international studies with my career, so the Peace Corps seemed like a good stepping off point.”

Mogab was tasked with several interesting jobs around the Malian village.

“ I was an agricultural volunteer, so I did a number of things. I did a radio show with some other volunteers on a weekly basis, where we did some public service announcements in the local language. I also had a chicken raising co-op with some of the women in the village, where I helped them build better chicken coops, learned how to vaccinate chickens, and other things like that.”

Along with the hard work of agriculture and chicken raising, Mogab got to spend a lot of her time with the people of the village.

“The women in Mali, as in many Muslim societies, are able to keep the money they generate,” Mogab said. “Often moms spend their money on their family, better education, and food. My focus was mainly on helping the women because that ends up helping the whole family.”

As expected with any experience of this magnitude, Mogab learned many valuable lessons about both the world and herself.

“I learned humility,” Mogab said. “It’s pretty challenging to be the only English speaker in a rural West-African community. I think I also learned a lot of independence and problem solving skills. I learned a new language – Bambara. All in all, I learned lots of things. It’s a huge experience.”

The Peace Corps, however, was more than just a way to get ahead in her career. What Mogab cherishes from her time in Mali is the relationships she built with people in the community and the memories that will last a lifetime.

“My favorite part was my village and my host family- the people that I lived with for two years and got to know very well,” Mogab said. “The Malians are great people and I miss them terribly.”

 

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