First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the Peace Corps and some dysentery? For two Flagler College seniors, that’s the plan
By Jennifer Swift | firstname.lastname@example.org
Flagler College senior Rachel Manring has never left the United States, yet this summer she and her husband, senior Tristan Estes, will depart to Africa for two years as Peace Corps volunteers.
Inspired to see the world, the two decided joining the Peace Corps would be a good start. Manring has wanted to join the Peace Corps since a speaker for the program visited Flagler her sophomore year.
Estes, having traveled to Japan previously, did not need much convincing to join her.
“I just wanted to get out of the country again,” he said.
The Peace Corps. admits 30 percent of its applicants. Estes and Manring endured a rigorous screening process. Estes describes the application process as the worst part. His wisdom teeth were removed in order for him to achieve medical clearance.
This is normal, according to Christopher Sarver, assistant professor at Flagler. He served in the Peace Corps from 1993 to 1995 in Guatemala.
“The Peace Corps is a state-run department program,” he said. “Once you’re admitted as a full-time volunteer, you receive 100 percent medical coverage.”
The organization attempts to prevent any potential medical problems before sending volunteers overseas.
That’s not to say the two won’t become sick.
“We’ve pretty much been assured we’re going to get dysentery,” Manring said. “You’re adjusting to the bacteria in the food.”
Sarver agrees. He also describes culture shock and alienation as some of the experiences the pair will go through, a reason why the organization exercises caution in admitting people.
“Estes and Manring seem very flexible,” he said. “That’s something the Peace Corps looks for. One thing they have going for them is their marriage and the extra support that provides.”
Having dated for a year and a half, Estes and Manring married this semester in a small civil ceremony in order to be stationed together when they go overseas. Sarver says married couples earn more respect among the locals because most villagers are married by Estes’ and Manring’s age.
“It’s a symbol of status,” Sarver said.
The couple also feels their theatre background will help them, as they hope to develop a children’s theatre program when they arrive at their yet-to-be-assigned location. Estes, a theatre major, says the villagers have few inhibitions, making them natural actors.
Estes’ official job will involve agriculture.
“It’s odd what they’ll assign you to do,” he said.
His experience with agriculture is limited to a small garden he maintains.
Manring, a communication major with a theatre minor, will be involved with community development.
“It could include any number of things,” she said.
Whatever their jobs may be, their goal is the same.
“If I can make a difference in just one person’s life, then I’ll be happy,” Manring said.