Michael Buckler's Experience


Peace Corps Experience

  • Malawi
  • Education
  • 2006-2008

Graduate School

  • Cornell University

In late 2006, after working as a patent litigator in Portland, Oregon (mostly as outside counsel for Microsoft), I left my law firm (and lucrative salary) to become a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Malawi. From 2006 to 2008, I lived among ordinary Malawians, taught their children, and shared a village house with three male students, who became dear friends, supporters and confidants.

I was a teacher in Khwalala Village, helping implement several development projects, including tree planting, a nationwide education camp for gifted students from the village, and a boarding school for girls. Upon my return to the States, I wrote a recently published book, From Microsoft to Malawi: Learning on the Front Lines as a Peace Corps Volunteer (Hamilton Books 2011).

While in Malawi, and, as a voracious reader, I realized that most (if not all) of the development literature was written from above, by donors, politicians and economists, and that bothered me. So, after returning to the States, I wrote a book about the putative recipients of aid, the 90 percent of Malawians who practice sustenance farming, don't receive a decent education, and live on a dollar a day or less. The book's original title was Teach Me, an encapsulation of its primary theme, "We would do a much better job delivering international aid if we approached the challenge as students with something to learn, not teachers with something to prove."

The book is a fundraiser for the three students I lived with. Each has passed the college entrance examination and is ready to continue his education in Malawi, but none has the resources to do so. I hope that book proceeds and donations from readers will change that.

To read more about the book and its mission, visit www.FromMicrosoftToMalawi.com.

Photos

The following provided by Peace Corps on Flickr.