On January 23rd, 2008, Richard Post arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok as a member of Peace Corps Thailand group 120. He decided to join the Peace Corps after teaching at an international school in Senegal, and felt pulled to move beyond the physical and social walls of his school and expatriate community. After an intensive 10-week training program, he was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and moved to a small village in Nan province as a member of the Teacher Collaboration and Community Outreach project.
The focus of the project was to collaborate with local teachers, transferring techniques and skills to help them develop a student centered and interactive English classroom. Richard was matched with three amazing teachers, one at the primary school, and two at the high school. Together they refined their goals for student achievement, redesigned unit structures, and experimented with new educational activities that increased student engagement with the material.
Through their collaboration several projects developed. At the primary school Richard designed, created, and located grant funding for an English library containing 86 sequenced graded readers, with 15 copies per reader, to support the reading curriculum that he and his co-teacher were developing. Additionally, they established an English drama group to provide further interactions with the English language and took the club to a national conference to attend workshops and perform.
To address students’ geographical isolation their high school students wrote letters in English describing themselves, their village, and their future dreams that were sent to 12 of Richard’s acquaintances in 9 different countries. The letters carried instructions to send a postcard back to the student, and to forward the letter on to another person. During a 2-day English-geography camp the students painted a 6 ft x 9 ft world map mural and used it to track each correspondence. This activity personally connected them to the global community, gave them the opportunity to use English, and fostered curiosity to learn about other cultures. Beyond the classroom, Richard co-led 7 English Camps, co-led 4 English teacher trainings at the provincial level, designed and led a series of English teacher trainings in his district, and led 3 training sessions for incoming volunteers in groups 121 and 122. He completed his service in April of 2010.
Richard decided to attend Penn Nursing because he wanted to be in a school community that thinks locally and globally, and the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) program is building on the skills he gained as a Peace Corps Volunteer. In the Peace Corps, he learned three important lessons. First, building a relationship is central to any successful partnership. Second, you need to approach the other person as an equal. Finally, enduring change happens when you help facilitate others to create the change in their own lives. In the AGPCNP program we have a well-crafted curriculum taught by talented and caring professors that not only teach us to become good clinicians, but also encourage us to listen to our patients, treat them as equals, and to personalize care.
Richard believes his education at Penn Nursing and Peace Corps service are shaping his career goals. He wants to work in an underserved community clinic where he can see his patients for years, and can jointly craft small manageable goals together that are cumulatively impactful. One day he hopes to teach at a university and help shape future nurse practitioners into becoming strong clinicians and developing effective interpersonal skills. Richard also hopes to work with Doctors Without Borders. The rigorous education from Penn Nursing and the life changing experience of being a Peace Corps Volunteer have played a tremendous role in shaping who he is and he confidently looks forward to the next step in his career.