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CSIS Podcast: Peace Corps by and for Africans

Produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on 10/19/2023

An interview with CorpsAfrica Founder and CEO Liz Fanning.

“Liz Fanning: It had everything to do with it. Well, it had a part to partly to do with it. I was, um, you know, from the upper east side of Manhattan, and I was, you know, working away, and for several reasons, joined the Peace Corps. Went to live in a high-poverty rural village in the high Atlas mountains of Morocco for two years. This was back in the mid-1990s, and I was an environmental volunteer.

We were doing solar ovens, we were doing tree planting projects, those sorts of things, and it was great. It was an incredible experience for me, and I came to value and understand the complexity of these communities and how incredible these people are, and how capable, and, you know, I- I did feel, at the time, “Who am I to come here and help them? They- they are so skilled.” What they needed was to be connected to the resources and to be listened to, organized, facilitated, and encouraged.

So, I talk a lot about this woman that I had met at a café in Marrakesh, told her what I was doing as a Peace Corps volunteer, and she said, “It’s so great what you’re doing. I mean, it’s so … Thank you for- for helping my country. Can I be a Peace Corps volunteer? You know, I’m Moroccan. I want to help my country,” and I had to say, “No, I’m sorry. It’s only for Americans,” and her question dogged me for 20 years.

Now, I look back and I- I feel like her question changed my life, but I didn’t know it at the time. It really did stay with me for a long time, because she’s- she’s right. She deserves this opportunity, and there are so many educated, credible, ambitious, eager young Africans who are very capable of doing what we, as Americans, come from overseas to do, which is help the local people (CSIS 2023)”.

Listen to the podcast and read the full transcript at the link below:

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