Laura Summers, Peace Corps

Traditional Ifugao dance performed by Peace Coprs volunteers and students from Ifugao State University.

Name: Laura Summers
School: University of California, San Diego
Type of Work: Education
Region: Asia
Length of stay:1 Year+

Tell us about the organization you work for and what you do for them.
I am a Peace Corps Education Volunteer in the Philippines. I co-teach first and second year high schoolers (ages 12-15ish) four hours a day. In my free hours at school I am working on a secondary project: creating a Learning Resource Center for students to visit to read, play games, and do their homework. I live with a host family, which has been really helpful in integrating into my community.

Share a favorite memory.
In November we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps in the Philippines. I joined a group of Filipino college students and other Peace Corps volunteers to perform a traditional Ifugao dance wearing traditional costumes. I love learning traditional dances and look forward to showing the video to all my friends and family back home so they can learn a little about Filipino culture.

What have you learned from your experience? How has it affected your long-term goals?
As of now I am thinking about getting my teaching credential when I return to the U.S. Before joining the Peace Corps I did not want to become a teacher.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of being a Peace Corps volunteer is learning how to cope with failure. While you are learning to navigate a new culture, and as in my case, a new profession, you are bound to have embarrassing moments and miscommunications that interrupt your plans. Being a Peace Corps volunteer requires an extraordinary amount of flexibility and patience. But what you learn in two years is priceless.

Do you have any advice for prospective gappers?
Just do it! Travelling and volunteering abroad will give you such a wonderful new perspective on life and your place in it. If you can’t afford to volunteer a whole year, do as long as you can. You won’t regret it.