Traditional dancers performed for trainees in South Africa in January 2011. The dance involved women in traditional dress stomping, clapping and parading around a set of traditional drums that were providing the music for the dance.
I had just gotten back home to site from being in the city for two weeks of intensive in-service training. I was nervous about returning to site, returning to my normal routine, the seclusion, the intense cultural differences that make living in a village and city so vastly different. The small children always seem to add color and excitement to life. Upon arriving back home from school, there was a group waiting anxiously for me to come back, it was one of the best feelings. I have never had so much fun playing “Go Fish”, a new game for them. They made the transition much easier.
- Peace Corps Education Volunteer Elle Chang, Indonesia
"My family in the U.S. sent me a care package full of sugar cookies, sprinkles, and icing so I invited my friends and neighbors in Ecuador over to decorate some traditional American Christmas cookies. This photo shows my 8-year-old host niece Roxana enjoying sharing in one of my own family traditions." - Peace Corps Environment Volunteer Laurel Smith
"I arrived at site in mid December and was invited to an office Christmas Lunch. I accepted the invitation but the "lunch" was really a dinner and a huge party at a local restaurant. The night included dancing and singing by all. As I know now as typical in Macedonia - a group of musicians showed up playing various instruments and I captured this photo with the musicians and one of my colleagues at the city hall." - Peace Corps Community Development Karen Schaan
"These children attend one of the few government-run centers in Honduras catering to families with severe economic hardships, and children of working mothers. Just before Christmas 2010, they made these decorations to bring home and spread the holiday cheer!" - Peace Corps Youth Development Volunteer Lisa Lavezzo
This is my best friend in the village dressing me in traditional Turkish costume for a wedding. It was taken in March 2010 in my Bulgarian village which is almost completely inhabited by Turkish Bulgarians.
I took this photo on December 19th, 2008 in Ecuador. A local boy’s mother is preparing him for the parade of the traveling child (niño viajero) through the city of Cuenca. The main parade takes place in the week before Christmas, though every surrounding parish, hamlet and even schools have their own parade of some kind. Cuenca’s is by far the largest in Ecuador, taking the better part of a day from start to finish, winding its way through the colonial cobblestone streets of the historic center. In the parades, children dress up as nativity scene figures, such as the three wise kings. There are also floats with scenes from Jesus’s life and the famous Niño Divino, a highly venerated religious figure of the baby Jesus. - Peace Corps Youth Development Volunteer Bradley Mattan
This photo was taken in Peru, on the eve of World AIDS Day, 2009. We received a small PEPFAR grant to run a year-long HIV prevention program, focused on training youth peer educators and educating the community about prevention through mass media. World AIDS Day was a flurry of activity, with our peer educators participating in educational fairs, talking to the media, and organizing community-wide parades.
However, on the eve of November 30th, we took a pause to hold a candle-light vigil in the central plaza of our community. Young and old all came together to hold up candles and sing in solidarity with those who have been affected by HIV and with hope for the next generation that they may grow-up HIV free. - Peace Corps Volunteer Sarah Walker
"This photo was taken in my first village, a small Bulgarian Muslim community in northeastern Bulgaria. I was playing in my yard one day with three of my girls, and we just enjoyed one another’s company through games, eating apples, and air guitar. This was one of those simple and defining moments of service when I realized, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, that our work here goes far beyond the technical guidelines. As I read before I came, we expect to give, but in fact we receive much more than we are able to share. These girls gave me so much inspiration, love, and hope. I hope I gave them the same. And we will always remain friends!" - Peace Corps Education Volunteer Karina E. Strange
The children in my village have taken me in at their big sister, calling me “kakak” rather than my actual name. It’s heart-warming. They love to take me to the sugarcane fields that surround our village. They run with knifes, and it makes me nervous, but it’s the norm here. Children run free here. I love this photograph because I actually let Sylvie, a 9-year old with very sticky fingers from the sugarcane juices, use my Canon SLR to take this. Whenever she sees this photo, she proudly says “aku aku” or “mine mine”.