Alumni Kelsey McCall on her Peace Corps Adventure in Gambia

kelsey in gambia

In mid-October IDS alum Kelsey McCall left on her two year Peace Corps assignment in the Gambia where she is aspiring to make long lasting, sustainable, qualifying change in her Gambian community by educating all ages in health curriculum that improves lives for many generations. As part of her application process Kelsey identified three professional attributes that will help her meet her aspirations while succeeding as a Peace Corps volunteer. Based on her previous volunteer work Kelsey concluded that her flexibility, positivity, and communication skills will be her best assets while working with her Gambian Community.  Her flexibility and positivity makes her a patient, adventurous and fun worker which helped when she was struggling to learn how to carry a 20-gallon badong full of water on her head from the village well to her hut. The learning adventure included a lot of spillage, being laughed at, and a minor goose egg, but as Kelsey puts it “a positive attitude can help turn an unfortunate situation into an adventure, frustration into reflection, and confusion into a learning moment.”

During the training period Kelsey’s mornings are filled with classes, while her afternoons include bike rides to see friends in nearby villages or to Soma, where there is internet and a large market, hauling water, playing with the local kids, drinking attaya– a local sweet green tea, and writing in her journal. In December, at the end of the training period Kelsey will be sworn into the Peace Corps and relocate to her permanent location, Alkali Kunda in the North Bank Region of Gambia. The trip from her training village to her new home for the next two years, where she will be living in a local family’s compound, takes two hours and utilizes five modes of transport, including a ferry and donkey cart. Soon she will be working with local health care providers to do an initial baseline survey of her local community to get an idea of what their health education needs are, and then she will begin developing appropriate projects in the Peace Corps’ four main Health focus areas including: Reproductive and Maternal Health, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Environmental Sanitation including WASH – water and sanitation hygiene, and Malaria Prevention.

Kelsey points to the International Development Studies minor which “strongly incorporated an environmental viewpoint” that allowed her to “understand the importance of how a community's resources and environmental issues overlap with their culture” as her biggest educational influence towards Peace Corps service as IDS led her to courses and professors that continually sparked her desire to serve abroad as a Peace Corps volunteer. The Peace Corps Prep certificate, including a specialization in Civic Engagement, gave her practical knowledge of grassroots development she needed as well as a competitive edge in her Peace Corps application. To follow Kelsey’s PC adventures visit her blog.

Image Above: Kelsey’s Post Graduation Experience in Gambia.