Peace Corp volunteer seeks new adventures
Eileen Boise enjoyed her Peace Corps experience in Zimbabwe nearly 20 years ago.
Courtesy of Eileen Boise
Eileen Boise joined the Peace Corps at age 65.
Almost 20 years later, she still thinks her trip to Africa was one of the most magical times of her life.
“We were immersed in the culture, the food, the language,” Boise said. “It was life changing.”
Boise, who enjoys adventure, said it was her small business experience that prompted her to join the Peace Corps. She felt she had life skills she could share.
“I had a small business, it was successful, it was a design business, I had enough success,” Boise said.
During an initial three-month immersion period into the African culture, each of the Peace Corps volunteers was assigned to a family. After that, the 15 volunteers relocated to a village they oversaw in Zimbabwe.
The Peace Corps is a volunteer U.S. government program. It provides social and economic development through technical assistance and promotes mutual understanding between Americans and other nations.
Boise traveled to Masvingo Province in southeastern Zimbabwe, where she would spend the remainder of her time.
“The ladies in the village were so creative,” Boise said. “They were weaving tapestries, making bowls and they used these creations every day for an everyday bowl. I thought this would be great for tourists. So, I opened a little craft shop on the highway and it was doing very well when I left.”
Boise trained a young girl to operate one store, who like other villagers was “very smart, very bright.”
She and her fellow Peace Corps volunteers had to deal with strange, unidentifiable foods such as caterpillars, ants and chicken heads. As a result, some volunteers had issues and became sick. For that, there was always a nurse not far away.
“You have a potential that you don’t even know,” Boise said. “When I tell people these stories, everyone says, they could not do it, but you can.”
After her return to the United States, Boise said she felt deeply enriched from her first-hand experience with poverty and hardship.
“When you’re finished, you are never the same, you benefit so much,” Boise said. “When I got back, I couldn’t adjust to the waste at first.”
In 2001, soon after her experience, Boise moved to Florida from Ohio for the warm weather. Now, she says she is once again ready for a change.
“I keep teasing my neighbors that I am moving to Peru,” she said.
In the meantime, Boise wants to connect with other Peace Corps volunteers to share experiences and have gatherings.
She has a gleam in her eyes, a far away look that might indicate she is not done with adventures.
Boise can be reached at 321-255-3488.