23-year-old begins Peace Corp tour in Africa

Charis Patires

Megan Bonacker says she isn’t quite sure what she got herself into.

Other than what research she has been able to gather online, the 23-year-old knows very little about Cape Verde. After a year of interviews, paperwork and physicals, Bonacker was accepted into the Peace Corps and left Monday to start her 27-month stay abroad. 

It’s not the thought of moving to a foreign country or even venturing into the unknown that makes her skittish. At this point, she is more concerned about brushing up on Portuguese.

The island nation of Cape Verde is located west of Africa. It was a spot on the map she never knew existed, but the place she will call home for the next two years.

She will be teaching English at a public school and will lead HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention classes for colleagues.

“It is something I have always wanted to do. I have always wanted to live in another country and it’s a good time in my life right now,” Bonacker says.

Bonacker says when she applied for the Peace Corps, she wasn’t sure where it would lead. With a degree in anthropology, she figured the best way to put it to use was to join thousands of volunteers that promote world peace and friendship.

It will be hard to break away from her family. Keeping in contact by e-mail is not going to be easy, she says.

“That’s the main thing I struggle with,” Bonacker says. “But I’m thankful that my parents support me. It is making it easier on me.”

What she won’t miss are Missouri snowstorms. She points out the year-round warm temperatures will make for a smooth transition.

She will stay with a host family for nine weeks who will show her around and teach her the way of life. After a few months of training, she will be sent to a village or town to finish out her term.

According to information provided by the Peace Corps, there are 56 volunteers working on the islands in various fields.

It may be a bit early to think about plans upon returning to America, but Bonacker says she hopes her experience abroad will give her a better idea of what path to take in life.

“I would love to find a job where I can travel and work,” she says. “I am hoping this will open the doors and show me some opportunities I don’t realize exist.”

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