Auburn Alumnus Travels More Than 4,000 Miles for Peace Corps and Meets Fellow Alumnus
Adam Brasher, a 2018 College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) graduate, embodies the human touch as he continues serving the Peace Corps in Guyana.
For the past 19 months, Brasher has been living in an indigenous community, teaching science to third through sixth graders and training teachers in active learning and efficient methods to deliver science curriculum.
On top of teaching in a primary school, Brasher helps with several projects, including assisting with the establishment of a wildlife club at a secondary school. Brasher’s goal is to use hands-on methods to spark a passion among students for conservation and the protection of the many natural resources in their community.
Now, he has seven months left in this Guyanese town of nearly 3,000 people, where the nearest bank and supermarket are an hour-long speedboat ride away.
Brasher majored in Organismal Biology with a Hunger Studies minor. During his time at Auburn, he served as president of the Society for Conservation Biology, worked as a teaching assistant in biology laboratories, photographed for the Glomerata and the Plainsman, and led the Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) organization as vice president and president.
Brasher’s involvement with UFWH developed his passion for service and, ultimately, led him to want to take time after college to give back.
“My junior year, I became friends with the Peace Corps recruiter on campus and realized that this was something I very much wanted to do; it was a way to merge several of my passions, including service, teaching, and travel. After researching the available jobs and realizing there were many for which I was qualified, including several in environmental education, one thing led to another and now I’m here in South America,” Brasher said.
The process to join the Peace Corps is quite lengthy, beginning with an online application about one’s qualifications and motivation to join. There are a wide variety of openings for a wide variety of skillsets. Brasher says having relevant experience, on top of a degree, is a big plus and can be a difference maker in landing a position. The application continues with ranking the countries one is interested in or best suited for. There process ends with an interview with a placement officer, and, if all goes well, an invitation to serve.
The entire process was just over a year long from the time Brasher began his application to when he landed in Guyana – his first ranked country.
“I did research into a lot of different Peace Corps countries with programs I was qualified for, and discovered that Guyana is one of the most unspoiled and bio-diverse countries in the world, so it’s the obvious choice for a biology major. I was also very interested in the chance to put my biology degree to good use as an environmental educator here,” Brasher said.
Brasher prepared for this experience by simply going into the program with an open mind. With this mentality, Brasher did not find the cultural adjustment too difficult; rather the hardest change was beginning life in an area with no wired electricity, running water, roads, or Internet, he said.
A large part of Brasher’s job is not only adapting to Guyanese culture, but sharing aspects of American culture with his community and sharing aspects of Guyanese culture with those back home.
“Guyanese foods, sports, and holidays are very different than what I was used to in the States, but it’s been a lot of fun learning about and participating in them. I’ve also been able to share a little of my culture from back home with my friends here as well, for example, my host brother is now a huge fan of fried okra and Auburn football,” Brasher said.
When his time in Guyana is up, Brasher plans to return to the States and further his education before going back abroad. Unsure of where his career will take him, he hopes to pursue his passion for international development and serve in areas such as food access and security, and microfinance as a tool for community development.
For now, Brasher is focused on equipping his Guyanese community with the tools needed to reach their developmental goals.
“If I can help give even one person the skills and knowledge they need to impact change in their community, I’ll consider my service a success,” Brasher said.