Stevenson Center student empowering girls in Botswana
Carolyn Moe wants to equip the girls in Botswana she has encountered during her Peace Corps service with skills to stand up for themselves. Now in her second year of service, Carolyn uses her experiences from the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development to help her community.
Moe graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota, where she obtained a bachelor’s in nutrition and a minor in leadership. A study abroad trip to Tanzania in her junior year opened her eyes up to new possibilities.
“Although I feel the United States is a diverse place there is a definite culture and way of thinking about things that is hard to notice unless you go out and experience something new,” said Moe.
Studying abroad allowed Moe to experience the culture in an authentic way.
“This learning about different ways of life and different ways of thinking was like eating a candy that I had never tasted before and I wanted more,” said Moe. “I wanted to travel, experience, and learn more.”
The Stevenson Center proved to be a perfect fit for Moe, who grew in her professional skills while surrounded by a supportive network. Finding the classes to be very applicable, she credits the Stevenson Center for preparing her for Peace Corps service.
“The thing that really convinced me that this was the program for me was the interdisciplinary nature. There are five different majors, and we all have classes together. We are able to hear perspectives from different fields,” said Moe.
Moe formed many lasting friendships from her cohort at the Stevenson Center. Upon completion of her Peace Corps service, she hopes to visit friends serving in Ukraine and Morocco.
“Peace Corps provides a lot of support for us in doing the work that we do here but I feel like I am even more supported because I still have the Stevenson staff back home supporting me,” said Moe.
“Peace Corps provides a lot of support for us in doing the work that we do here but I feel like I am even more supported because I still have the Stevenson staff back home supporting me.” – Carolyn Moe
Moe lives and works in a village in Botswana. She is a health volunteer with the title of civil service capacity builder and works on a large variety of projects with the nongovernment organization Humana People to People.
A lot of her work stems from the HIV epidemic in Botswana, which has the third highest rate of HIV in the world. Moe has helped with programs on teen pregnancy, engaging with community members and discussing the pressures and issues young men and women face in relationships. Other projects use games as a platform to educate kids about HIV and malaria. She is able to use her nutrition degree with certain projects related to growing food and healthy eating habits.
Botswana has distinct cultural differences that Moe has noticed in her service. For example, proper greetings and introductions are significant. The society has an informal policy of sharing what everyone has and there is an expected precedent that if someone has an item, it will be shared with everyone. Often, people get married at a later age but usually have children by that time. Moe noted that it is uncommon for friendships to exist between the genders. Botswana being a highly patriarchal society, Moe hopes to be a role model to the young girls she encounters during her service.
Adjusting to Botswana and the Peace Corps has been a challenge, but Moe is positive about the work she is doing and feels it is beneficial to be pushed out of her comfort zone. In a podcast episode, Moe talks about her experiences.
“I’m glad that I decided to do it in the first place,” said Moe.
Moe is a sociology student through the Master’s International program, which Peace Corps has ended nationwide. However, the Stevenson Center offers interdisciplinary, applied graduate programs and an undergraduate program, Peace Corps Prep.
For additional information on the Peace Corps, contact campus recruiter Hunter Ryan.
Stevenson Center students currently serving in Peace Corps:
- Emily Blankenberger – Ukraine
- Amanda Breitenstein – Ukraine
- Teddy Dondanville – Peru
- Caleb Griffin – Morocco
- Katy Jones – Ukraine
- Courtney Johnson – Mozambique
- Carolyn Moe – Botswana
- Bethan Owen – Morocco
- Renee Palecek – Morocco
- Chaney Skadsen – Colombia
- George Stanton – Ukraine
- Dani Stevens – Ukraine
Sarah Aten is the Stevenson Center’s public relations intern.