Grad Enters Peace Corps in Search of Meaning

Grad Enters Peace Corps in Search of Meaning
Grad Enters Peace Corps in Search of Meaning

December 22, 2016

After graduating from Susquehanna University in 2007, Charles Kennedy had checked all of the boxes. He was making a healthy living as a geologist for a geotechnical engineering firm, and was contemplating buying a house and settling down in New York.

But something was nagging at the earth and environmental sciences major.

"I didn't have the sense that what I was doing was making a difference," Kennedy said. "So I did the only logical thing I could think of: I hit the hard reset button, sold all my belongings and moved to a different continent."

Kennedy joined the Peace Corps and taught biology and chemistry at an all-girls, advanced-level secondary school in northern Tanzania in the village of Endamarariek, near the Serengeti National Park.

He spent three years there, extending his Peace Corps contract twice.

"The Peace Corps is great because they have a knack for placing people in very remote places where their work is actually needed and valued highly," Kennedy said.

Kennedy pointed to the passion held by Jennifer Elick, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, as his inspiration for never settling.

"It is due to Dr. Elick's inexorable passion for geology that I have always considered settling for an existence that was not my calling as a compromise I am not willing to make," Kennedy said. "She always brought so much energy to whatever she was doing that it was impossible to not get excited as well."

Kennedy's future plans include earning his teaching certification and likely teaching at an international school somewhere outside the U.S.

"The poverty that I lived with on a daily basis would be depressing to most people. However what you actually find is that people are happier than the average American," Kennedy said. "They own little and want little. What they do have is an amazing sense of community and caring for their fellow people."

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