Most students look for a college that’s far enough away from home, but not too far away. It’s nice to be able to get home for long weekends, or when the laundry gets too piled up. But Tracy Minard ’10 sure isn’t most students. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and made her first long trip to Keene when she arrived as a freshman. She studied English and minored in writing, but even moving across a large continent didn’t assuage her wanderlust. She spent a semester abroad in Florence and did an internship with the Center for International Studies in Northampton, Mass.
But distant horizons still beckoned, and she joined the Peace Corps before she’d even graduated from KSC. It must not have been to out of character for her, though. When she told her friends what she’d done, they all responded, “Of course you’re joining the Peace Corps, Tracy!” Now she’s living in a small Muslim village in the Rhodopi Mountains in southern Bulgaria, teaching English to grades 2–8.
If that sounds a little remote, it is. Sofia, the capital, is five hours away. “To get home from Sofia, I have to take a bus for four hours, another bus for about half an hour, and then hitchhike up here to the village and my cozy little apartment,” Tracy wrote. “I am one of eleven teachers in a school of 107 students and … our small school’s only English teacher. One of my goals before leaving this wonderful village will be to help find the money to hire a permanent English teacher so the students can continue to study.”
Many Peace Corps volunteers work in well-equipped language schools in large cities, live in fancy block apartments, and have many restaurants and grocery stores at their disposal—but not Tracy. “I do not have these luxuries, and, in fact, just went without water for eight days due to frozen pipes. However, I cannot stress enough how I would not want it any other way,” she reported.
“I’m extremely interested in encouraging others to consider the Peace Corps and would love to share a little about what I’m doing here,” Tracy said. “My time at Keene State truly helped me grow into the individual that I am today and definitely lead me to my decision to come here and teach English as a volunteer.”
Her advice for students still at KSC? “Explore Keene! Don’t just stay on campus! It’s a great little town filled with amazing things! Take advantage of your department—your family for those four years. Of course, STUDY ABROAD. Twice if you can; take every advantage.”
Do you know Tracy, or have you done a stint in the Peace Corps? If so, drop her a comment. She’ll be delighted.