P2P interview #9 with Wendy Lee,Peace Corps Volunteer: Thanks to technology, being a Peace Corps volunteer no longer means being isolated in a village

by Laurent François

Everything started on twitter. Wendy Lee sent me a request, and I really liked her blog. It mixes personal quest and Peace Corps engagement story. She shares her views with us on social media, people and Cameroon.

  • Hi ! Who are you and what are you doing online ?
I am Wendy, a Peace Corps volunteer currently serving in Cameroon, in the sector Small Enterprise Development. Just before arriving to Cameroon, I graduated from Saint Louis University with a degree in finance and economics. Instead of joining the private sector that I am familiar with, I wanted to seek international experience within the public sector. Seems I had picked a great time for such experiment given the current economic condition! I am online to keep in contact with my friends and families back home, but also obtaining useful information from the world through sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
I began the blog as a way to document my adventures in Cameroon and a way to keep people updated on my life. Also, when I was preparing for my own Peace Corps experience, I really enjoyed reading other volunteers’ blogs so I began mine also as a way to provide information for newcomers or those thinking of partaking in this experience. I named the blog Round II: Cameroon because I had spent the first 12 year of my life in Taiwan, and the later 10 in the US. Moving to Cameroon marks the second round of moving to a brand new country, speaking a totally different language and adjusting to a foreign culture. Through my blog, I aim to not only share my experience in Cameroon as an American, but also a Taiwanese. The culture exchange has been a three-way triangle and I thoroughly enjoy sharing my reflection with blog readers.
  • What really changed thanks to social media ?
Social Media has absolutely changed the way people connect to one another and the way ideas interconnect in this world. My blog has connected me to people I never would have met in my life; my recent discovery of Twitter further validates this phenomenon. For a Peace Corps volunteer, the advent of Internet and social media has changed the way volunteers can share ideas and solicit support for their own projects. Social media has connected me with previous volunteers and other professionals on the world wide web, who have provided excellent input for my work here. My most incredible contact from social media was when a gentleman currently living in New Jersey emailed me to say he saw my blog and that he’s from the village of Batié where I am working, and would like to support my projects in any way that he could. What coincidence! Thanks to technology, being a Peace Corps volunteer no longer means being isolated in a village with no access to the world.
  • If you could achieve an incredible project thanks to social web, what would it be ?

I am currently working on a library project in Cameroon. What began as my desire to fill books for a library at the local 4-room primary school by my house has extended to a large project thanks to the social web. The network of information put me in contact with Books For Africa who will supply a 40-foot container of 22,000 books. With that information, I have extended the project to include other volunteers and hopefully to benefit 22 school across 3 provinces here in Cameroon. We aim to provide library management training for the schools and fill their libraries with books! The project has expanded beyond my wildest dreams and is still growing. I hope to continue seeking supporters via the social web to ensure this project come to successful completion before my departure in July 2010.

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