Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) keep serving throughout their lives. The Peace Corps provides resources to support returned Volunteers and to showcase the Third Goal of the Peace Corps mission.
Brian Seavey manages undergraduate engagement programming in the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs with a focus on building academic enrichment, civic engagement, leadership development, professional preparation, and global citizenry of O’Neill students. Before coming to the O’Neill School in 2016, Seavey worked with undergraduate, graduate, and medical students at Duke University and the Yale School of Public Health. Prior to entering higher education, he was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, and he also has experience working in Haiti and Senegal. His undergraduate degree is in chemical engineering from the University of Virginia and he earned a Master in Public Health from the Yale School of Public Health.
Where did you serve? When?
Republic of Mali, 2004 – 2006
What was your undergraduate alma mater? Graduate alma mater? Program(s)-of-study? Were you a Coverdell Fellow?
I graduated from University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and a concentration in Biotechnology before joining the Peace Corps.
What was your primary job? Did you have any secondary projects? How did you go about starting those?
I served as a small business development volunteer working with the mayor’s office at my site, a village that was home to approximately 3,000 people. My primary job was to introduce Microfinance into the community. With that in mind, I acted as a liaison with a Malian nonprofit organization in the installation of a savings and loan bank, completing a feasibility study and convincing the influential members in the community of the bank’s importance. After the bank was opened, I trained the cashiers in bookkeeping and the bank’s committee members on loan analysis and marketing techniques.
I worked on multiple secondary projects during my two years in Mali. I worked with local women’s organizations, teaching literacy classes in French and Bambara. I worked with the local elementary school, restoring a neglected library, adding some new books and opening the library to the community three days a week. Additionally, I received a USAID grant to equip the village mayor’s office with a computer and printer to improve the efficiency and transparency of the local civil servants.
With so many other volunteering programs, why were you specifically interested in the Peace Corps?
When I was finishing up my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to take some time to explore service before I pursued a career or graduate school. I specifically wanted the opportunity to go abroad. Growing up, I had the chance to live in Japan, Greece, and Scotland due to being in a military family. Peace Corps offered an amazing opportunity to conduct service while immersed in a new culture.
If you had to only name one thing, what was your favorite part about being a Volunteer?
My favorite part about being a volunteer was forming a community with my fellow Volunteers in Mali. It was daunting to upend your life for two years, travel to a foreign country, and start a new job. But, learning from and getting to know the other volunteers opened my eyes to how many dedicated and amazing people join the Peace Corps.
What was it like reintegrating into American culture?
Reintegrating back into American culture was harder than I expected. After serving as an “ambassador” to the US for two years to everyone in my community, it was eye-opening to reckon with the reality of America. Ultimately, it just required more time than I wanted.