More than a year into his two-year commitment as an eighth and ninth-grade teacher in Namibia with the Peace Corps, Graham Leggat ’17 reflects that several aspects of his HWS education prepared him well to live and work in the Oshana Region not far from Etosha National Park.
A key trait that he has relied on in Namibia, says Leggat, is flexibility. “One reason I feel I’m well qualified for the Peace Corps is that I am adaptable and comfortable being independent,” he says. While at HWS, Leggat spent a semester at Université Rennes 2 in France, an experience that inspired him to pursue his Peace Corps assignment.
His time at HWS, says Leggat, gave him a number of skills that have been useful. He recalls a class in Tibetan Buddhism with Instructor of Asian Studies Tenzin Yignyen, an ordained Buddhist monk, in particular. “The class gave me the opportunity to practice compassion and open-mindedness. I was also influenced by [Associate Professor of Physics] Ted Allen and [Professor of Physics] Don Spector for shaping the way I look at the world and changing my perceptions on education,” says the former physics major with a minor in French and Francophone studies.
High points of his Peace Corps service include his daily interactions with students at Onkumbwiimbi Combined School. In the classroom, Leggat teaches students from various skill levels, ranging from some who are fairly proficient in English to those with minimal exposure to the English language.
He also enjoys living in an environment that is not as high-tech as the U.S. “I like being fairly disconnected from social media,” he says noting that he does use WhatsApp to communicate with his family.
Leggat has been impressed by the beauty of the countryside. “Namibia is a gorgeous country and being able to travel around and see more parts of it has been awesome,” says Leggat. “The stargazing in [my] village is spectacular.”
When he completes his Peace Corps commitment at the end of the year, he is exploring his options. “I’m leaning toward going to graduate school for either civil or mechanical engineering,” he says. “The other big possibility would be to pursue international work or even a career as a strength coach.”
The Colleges rank third among small schools on the Peace Corps’ 2019 list of Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities. Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, 235 alums from HWS have traveled abroad to serve as volunteers, including 16 alums currently volunteering.