Engaged Learning and Peace Corps Service in Tanzania: An Autoethnography

Brianna Darling, John M Kerr, Laurie Thorp, Kimberly Chung


The Peace Corps Masters International program offers students the opportunity to combine their Peace Corps service with their master’s education. This article demonstrates how classroom learning strengthened the author’s Peace Corps service in Tanzania, which in turn strengthened her master’s thesis. Peace Corps supports an approach to community development that situates Volunteers closely with people in power, but this makes it difficult for them to gain the participation of the poor and marginalized. How can one strike a balance between effectiveness and cultural appropriateness? As an outsider, how do one’s relationships with community members affect project processes and outcomes? This autoethnography investigates the first author’s learning experience in undertaking community development in Tanzania’s southern highlands. Although the conclusions are specific to the case reported here, the learning process applies to others who are beginning to contemplate how they might enter a community, assess its needs, and do good work.

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