Alumna Shares Experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin

Alumna Carly Aquino ’14 visited Villa Maria in December to talk with students in Madame Goddard’s French class and Mrs. Anastasi’s social studies class about her experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer. Aquino began her posting in Benin in September 2018. She previously lived in Rwanda as part of her studies at George Washington University.

By Carly Aquino ’14

It was such a great experience talking with social studies and French classes about my Peace Corps Service in Benin, West Africa. During the presentations, we discussed the differences in culture, language, and living conditions, and the students had questions about what it was like adapting to a different culture and way of life. I explained some of the work that I do with women’s groups in my town as well as the importance of the relationships that I’ve built in Benin.

After we talked about Benin, our conversations often turned to advice about navigating the stress of high school and the college search. I told the students what I wish someone had told me when I was a junior at Villa: that the college search doesn’t have to be stressful and that wherever I went, I would find a place where I studied what I was passionate about, found friends that I would love, and professors who would push me. All of the teachers were behind me when I told the students that while it is important to work hard and get good grades, it’s not worth sacrificing your mental health chasing absolute perfection.

Villa was definitely the place where I built the confidence and was encouraged to chase my passions. Without my time at Villa, I don’t think I would be where I am now. And so I’m so happy I could share my experiences and hopefully inspire future Peace Corps Volunteers from Villa.