My name is Terese Maineri de Velasquez and I served as a Rural Youth at Risk Volunteer in Guatemala from 2003 – 2005.
Why did you choose to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer?
As a child, I visited the former Yugoslavia. The trip greatly impacted me. When war broke out in Yugoslavia, I was interested in seeking ways to assist communities recovering from violence. I attended Clark University in Worcester, MA and completed a Master of Arts in International Development and Social Change. With my degree in hand, I was ready to set out and put it to use serving my country.
I was a Rural Youth at Risk Volunteer in Santiago Sacatepequez, Guatemala. I volunteered with the Asociación Fémina en el Desarrollo en Sacatepequez (AFEDES), which provides micro-credit loans to women to start their own businesses. Many of the women who received loans from AFEDES did not complete school. AFEDES requested a Peace Corps Volunteer to work with the daughers of AFEDES members and promote higher education. I ran youth groups, taught marketable handicraft-making, and tutored 98 students. I visited the schools that students attended and met with teachers to ensure that the students were doing well in their studies.
Can you share your favorite memory from service?
My favorite memory during Peace Corps service was working with a youth group in the rural village of Pacul, Sacatequez. The village was forty minutes from my site. To get to Pacul, I would ride on the back of a pickup truck and walk twenty minutes up a dirt road always to be met immediately by a group of twelve to sixteen indigenous girls ready to learn something new.
How has serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer affected your life?
I met my husband the first month of Peace Corps in-service training. After meeting my husband, Guatemala became more than my country of service; it was now my home and I gained a second family.
What advice do you have for prospective Peace Corps Volunteers?
Your adventure starts now, go for it!! Every volunteer’s experience is different, but there is a shared bond among volunteers obtained by living and working in the developing world.
Do you have anything else you would like to share with our readers related to you or your PC service?
I love to paint and I would like to include some of my paintings for readers.