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.


The following provided by Peace Corps on Flickr.