D-SIP Peoples the Peace Corps, Past and Future
Natalie Wowk with two of her Namibian students.
D-SIP alumnae Melissa Harman and Natalie Wowk (BA '07) are two past and future faces of a volunteer organization with deep roots at U-M: the Peace Corps. In preparation for Harman's service, set to begin in 2011, Wowk—who returned from the Corps in 2009—answers a few of Harman's questions:
Where did you serve, and what did you do?
I served in Namibia as a math education volunteer. I worked with the corporate foundation for a big uranium mine near my town as a math tutor, and I taught ninth grade physical science. I also ran a student computer club and planned life skills conferences for youth in my community.
What surprised you about your service?
I was surprised by how much I personally changed during my service. I feel much more comfortable with uncertainty than I was before, and I've grown to appreciate our dependency on each other much more.
How did D-SIP prepare you for the Peace Corps?
I definitely used my D-SIP skills in finding and applying for funding when I was planning my life skills conferences. I was able to locally raise more than $2,000—a lot in Namibia!—to support two weekend conferences with 70 boys and girls participating in life skills workshops, including HIV and AIDS education.
What did you miss most about the United States?
Food occupied a strikingly large part of the discussion every time volunteers would get together and talk about what we missed. For me, it was a bagel, which pretty much doesn't exist in Africa.