By Viraj Naik for Island Eye News
Growing up in South Carolina it’s not often one has the opportunity to broaden his or her horizons in a rich new environment and culture. Luckily one resident of the Isle of Palms found a way.
Jimmy Carroll III, the first-born son of IOP councilmember Jimmy Carroll, joined the prestigious Peace Corps Volunteer group after graduation, giving him the chance to live in Central America while fulfilling the Peace Corps mission of becoming a global citizen and thus ambassador for the U.S.
The College of Charleston graduate saw the opportunity as a means to enrich himself culturally whilst being able to work and live in a completely new region.
“It was a good way to bridge the gap between college and starting a career,” says Carroll. “It was also an opportunity to be able to work and live abroad [while] doing something to give back to a rural community.”
For three years, he lived in the small town of Sal Caja, located in the western highlands of Guatemala. Working as a municipal health coordinator, Carroll’s goal was to help implement the healthy schools project in each of the town’s 12 elementary schools.
“My responsibilities [included] training teachers on how to teach health, project design management, and promoting health to students,” Carroll adds, “[as well as] working closely with [Sal Caja’s] local health center.”
Though being an American outside of their comfort zone and becoming integrated into a different community can be rather difficult, Carroll said that the town’s (often indigenous) locals were very welcoming.
“Typically everyone [there] was interested in where I came from and tried to get to know me or stop and talk to me,” Carroll says. “I really enjoyed meeting new people and I’d [often] get invited to dinners.”
Returning to the Isle of Palms in March, Carroll has been reflecting on the ideals the Peace Corps taught him and that he learned firsthand in a new environment.
“There are two main goals of the Peace Corps,” says Carroll. “The first to meet the needs of others and be qualified volunteers. The second goal is to [incorporate] cultural exchange, bringing US customs abroad and bringing different cultural [knowledge] back to the United States.”
For now, Carroll plans on looking into graduate school—the Peace Corps provides numerous scholarships, grants, and fellowships for its volunteers— whilst reconnecting with the Charleston community and spending time with family.
Since returning home from Guatemala, he has had the chance to visit other parts of South and Central America, including Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru, as well as parts of the Galapagos Islands.
For those interested in volunteering with the Peace Corps, Carroll recommends talking with Peace Corps recruiters who often come to campuses such as College of Charleston and The Citadel.
For more information regarding the Peace Corps and how to volunteer or get involved, visit peacecorps.gov.