Tom Archibald's Experience

Peace Corps Experience

  • Gabon
  • Environment
  • 2002-2004

Graduate School

  • Cornell University
  • Government

I was posted in Okondja, a small town in the east of Gabon. As an environmental education volunteer, I taught ecology classes in a middle and high school and facilitated non-formal education in an environment club that I helped create. The club started and managed a school garden, painted educational murals, went on field trips (including one to a nearby village where the club members educated their younger peers on ecology), did school and town clean-up days, and more. There is no possible way for me to adequately express how much my time in Gabon has affected my life — I expanded my horizons immensely, learned new worldviews, made lifelong friends from many countries from across West Africa, gained a huge amount of self-confidence, and more. Since I left Gabon in 2004, I have been back once to visit, and have traveled elsewhere in Africa for work. Perhaps the two most significant outcomes are that: I am now pursuing a PhD in non-formal education in Africa at Cornell, an interest which emerged directly from my Peace Corps service; and I have been married for five years to a lovely Gabonese woman. We now have an infant daughter, who we assume will want to be a Peace Corps volunteer!