Daniel Martell, a 2015 graduate of Daviess County High School and a recent graduate of Transylvania University in International Affairs and Classics, has just embarked on an opportunity with the Peace Corps to teach English in the rural areas of Uganda.
The first three months of the program will be spent in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. Martell said this is almost like a boot camp for the 50 volunteers that will be there from the United States. During this time, Martell will learn ways to communicate with Ugandans and how to teach English through the Uganda Primary Literacy Project. At the end of the extensive training, Martell will be assigned to the place he will teach for two years.
“I am excited to go all in on the new culture, language, civil festivals…in an authentic way,” Martell said. “I have traveled a lot, but I have always felt like a tourist.”
Martell said he will now be on the ground, living as one of the locals, with a host family that will provide basic necessities.
Martell said he is excited for this Peace Corps experience, and that while his family is excited to see him pursue this opportunity, they are definitely not happy to see him gone for so long.
While in the intensive program, the volunteer’s larger suitcase is stored, and they must live out of their smaller bag and backpack they brought. Martell said that provides specific challenges, as well, even though he has been told that most needs for basic supplies can be met in Kampala.
For the first two weeks, communication opportunities with family back home will be difficult as they are training and trying to transfer cell service to a Ugandan cell phone provider. They will have access to Wi-Fi, and there are plenty of internet cafes, but Martell said they should be prepared to not reach home at first.
“They see it [the intensive boot camp] as anything that could go wrong in that first three months…and then it is smooth sailing once out in country,” Martell said.
One of Martell’s friends is in Senegal working with the Peace Corps, and he left a couple of months ago. Martell said that he has relied on him frequently to learn what to expect.
Martell is excited to make a difference while teaching English in his placement, and said that when he returns home, he hopes to attend law school and focus on a career in international law and possibly politics, something he has been interested in since working with the Kentucky Democratic Party and the House Minority Caucus while at Transylvania.
Regardless of his future plans, Martell’s excitement for this work is evident when he speaks. He believes the opportunity has come at the right time for him, and that going through the Peace Corps has been the best option to prepare him for this assignment.
“I hope that reading about this will encourage others to think of the Peace Corps and service,” Martell said.
What is the Peace Corps?
The Peace Corps was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 as an opportunity for Americans to serve the world while serving their country. Peace Corps volunteers can do anything from teaching English, like Martell, to working in public health, trade, technology and community development. A Peace Corps volunteer serves for two years in his or her host country, and lives as a “good neighbor” of that community. According to Peace Corps, more than 235,000 Americans have served in 141 host countries. The average age of a volunteer is 27, and 99% of volunteers are unmarried. Two thirds more females are serving today than males. Forty-six percent of volunteers served in Africa in 2018, and 42% of the volunteers serve in the education field.