Peace Corps Volunteer Brooke Dunlap with some of her students.
May 31, 2019
Corps Values: Saying Goodbye

In a few months, many of the Peace Corps Volunteers who arrived here in 2017 will finish their two-year service and will head back to the United States.

I am one of those PCVs preparing to leave this beautiful island.

Spring Village has been my home for the past two years, and the people there have taken care of me as if I were one of their own. Every day I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have been placed in a community as warm and generous as Spring Village.

Peace Corps Volunteer Brooke Dunlap with some of her school’s Brownie troop.

People in Spring Village have walked me home after evening events at the school where I co-teach, and they have shown up at my door with gifts of fruits and vegetables. They have repaired my clothesline when it toppled over, changed the gas tank on my stove when I was afraid of blowing up my house, and introduced me to every aspect of Vincy culture. They have shown me buckets of tiny, swirling tri-tri fish and fried tri-tri cakes for me to sample. Every day the children at my school have greeted me with hugs and smiles. I have loved living in the natural, untouched beauty of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, but it’s the people here who I will miss when I return to the United States.

The next time this column appears in the Searchlight, it will have a new byline: Brooke Dunlap. Brooke, a Chicago native, graduated from Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. In that respect, it seems appropriate for Brooke to follow me as the next Corps Values writer — I too am a Western Illinois University alumna.

Brooke is assigned to Tourama Government School and co-teaches in grade one. She joined the Peace Corps because she wanted to explore the larger world and share her passion for reading and writing.

“I had never been out of the country before and wanted to learn about different languages and cultures,” she said. “Although they speak English here, the dialect is definitely a language of its own. I love reading and I am passionate about literacy, so this was perfect for me.”

Among the projects Brooke is focusing on at her school is developing the library. She has arranged for a U.S. organization to donate books and plans to set up not only a traditional library but classroom libraries. Brooke also helps out with her school’s Brownie troop.

Experiencing the warm hospitality of Vincentians has been one of the highlights of Brooke’s service.

“The best part of my service is the wonderful people I have met,” she said. “Everywhere I go, I am always welcomed and feel at home.”

Look for Brooke’s first Corps Values column to appear soon in the Searchlight.

Lainie Steelman is a Peace Corps Volunteer in SVG.