At an earlier age, Mark Goldy-Brown, of Zionsville, Pennsylvania, would always listen to his uncle tell stories about serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa. Since then, Mark knew he was meant to join the Peace Corps for several reasons: he wanted to travel, to put his Spanish language competency to work, to be exposed to new cultures, to challenge himself and, most importantly, to serve. Now, living and working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Perú, life couldn’t be sweeter for Mark – mainly because his Peruvian community prides itself on having a major sweet tooth.
“My site is widely famous for its sweets and desserts,” noted The Pennsylvania State University graduate. “The ice cream here is wonderful, and anytime I need a little pick-me-up, I just go buy a scoop or two or three.”
Settled at the foot of the Andes Mountains, Mark works as an Environment Management Volunteer to enhance environmental education and natural resource management in his community. He is currently focusing his efforts to remedy Perú’s biggest conservation issue: trash management.
“In my community, many sites don’t receive a trash collection service, and even if they do, many people simply burn their trash, throw it in the water canals, or bury it in their farmland,” Mark explained. “My efforts in trash management have been largely focused on increasing awareness about separating trash, recycling, and the consequences of littering and environmental pollution.”
While completing his primary assignment, Mark has spearheaded several other projects to educate his community, such as teaching neighborhood children in a weekly English class. Mark also hopes to form a co-ed Ultimate Frisbee team at a local school next month as a way to introduce gender equality among Peruvian youth.
As he reflected on his first six months of Peace Corps service, Mark credited his education at Emmaus High School – particularly its foreign language program – for equipping him with the Spanish fluency necessary to forge meaningful relationships in his community.
“My high competency in Spanish has been an invaluable resource in working on projects and forming connections with Peruvians,” said the longtime Hornet. “Additionally, I played soccer all throughout high school and that has definitely come in handy here in Perú since fútbol is the number one sport and nearly everyone plays.”
His undergraduate career at the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State also afforded him the chance to expand his horizons by studying abroad and becoming involved in various philanthropic efforts.
“During my time at Penn State, I was fortunate enough to have several opportunities to travel internationally for classes and coursework,” he added. “Such international exposure sparked my interest in culture and travel, eventually becoming one of the main reasons I began to look into the Peace Corps.”
Looking ahead to the rest of his two-year service, Mark hopes to leave a significant impact in his Peruvian community with respect to its environment and his neighbors.
“Considering my environmental work, I really hope to just leave my community a little cleaner and greener,” Mark concluded. “However, in general, I just hope that my host community will miss me as much as I will miss them, and at the end of two years, they will have a better understanding of Americans – apart from whatever they see in the latest Hollywood blockbuster or news reel.”
To follow Mark’s Peace Corps service in Perú, visit his blog at psu2peru.wordpress.com.
Mark will share more of his experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer with Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet and Congressman Charlie Dent at Penn State University on February 17th. If interested, please click here to RSVP.