Typically, Peace Corps service lasts two years, but after two years teaching in Tanzania, Nathaniel Coe ’13 “had fallen in love with the country and the people,” he says, and opted to extend his stay.
For the first two years, Coe worked as an education volunteer teaching English to 120 students at Kanga Secondary School in Mbeya in southwestern Tanzania. In the area, female students have lower attendance rates than male students, stemming from poor feminine hygiene education. “As a result [the girls] fall behind in their studies,” says Coe, whose work also included leading workshops designed to educate and empower the female students around issues of hygiene and self-care.
Coe’s final year was spent working for an agricultural start-up called Ninayo, founded by a fellow Peace Corps volunteer to optimize the agricultural network within the country by connecting buyers directly to sellers via an online trading platform. Building on his coursework at HWS — where he studied development work, cultural differences and the complex political and economic relationships between countries — Coe managed grant funds from USAID, coordinated with farmers and village leaders, created weekly schedules for field agents and oversaw the office’s daily activities.
His journey toward the Peace Corps began in high school after several trips to the Dominican Republic, where he helped construct a community center. “After that, I knew I wanted to pursue a field that helped improve the lives of others,” he says, “which led me to HWS and my choice to study international relations.”
Now that he has returned to the U.S., Coe intends to make use of the Peace Corps’ Non-Competitive Eligibility, an executive order that allows returned volunteers to be hired by agencies in the federal government without going through a lengthy competitive hiring process.
“I want to continue my work in international development with a government job in Washington, D.C.,” he says, “which I hope will lead me back to East Africa or other new and exciting regions of the world.”