Marcia White’s first “international” experience took place in 1987 at an IABC World Conference. Meeting so many people from around the world inspired her to see life from a different perspective, however, it wasn’t until 14 years later that she turned her inspiration into a new adventure.
In 2001, she was at a crossroads in life. She was unemployed, looking for a communications job, wasn’t tied down to staying in Lincoln, and didn’t have any debt. Unsure of the next step in life, it was when she was driving and heard a woman talking about the Peace Corps on the radio.
“I decided to go talk to a recruiter for the Peace Corps and began the application process,” Marcia said. “At the time, you didn’t get to pick where you went, but you could express preferences. My only preference was to go somewhere warm. I got more than I bargained for—sometimes the temperature was over 120° F! But you learn how to manage that.”
The whole process took about a year. During that time she had to undergo a physical, complete a background check, have fingerprints taken, and go through interviews with many questions. She was finally accepted into the program (after the recruiters recommended her) and learned where she was headed.
“In the fall of 2002, I left to spend two years in Paga, Ghana, a small village on the northern border of the country,” she said. “Because I had both teaching experience and corporate communications experience, I was assigned to the role of small business development volunteer.”
During the first two months, Marcia lived with a local family while in Ghana, which helped her learn the language and culture. This helped her be successful in her volunteering role. As a small business development volunteer, she worked on eco-tourism projects in two different villages. This also included providing locals with financial management and customer service training.
“Everyone was so kind and welcoming,” she said. “I met so many amazing people who turned into friends.”
Even though Marcia thoroughly enjoyed her time in Ghana, she admits she got homesick, which surprised her.
“I didn’t think I would get homesick since I was in my 40s, but I got lonely,” she said. “When this happened, I followed a friend of mine’s advice who was also in the Peace Corps ‘The days are long, but the years are short’ which was true. You focus on the work you do and the years fly by.”
Following her time in Ghana, Marcia was able to apply what she learned there to her life back at home.
“One thing you learn when spending two years in a developing country is patience,” she said. “There is just a different concept of time there. So, when I get too caught up in the pace of things here, I just remember my time in Ghana and try to slow down.”
Marcia also shifted her career to be more focused on community development, which correlates to her current role at The Community Health Endowment of Lincoln as the program manager. There, she has been able to use techniques she learned in the Peace Corps.
If given the opportunity, Marcia wouldn’t think twice about returning to Ghana or the Peace Corps.
“It was a really wonderful experience and I hope to go back to Ghana as a tourist,” she said. “I also haven’t given up on maybe being Peace Corps volunteer again.”