Brandon Avery, 25, decided to join the Peace Corps after graduating from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville because he wanted “to get some real field experience.”
Avery left his home in Georgia for Togo in west Africa on Sept. 18, 2010, and returned Sept. 25.
“Being able to go to another part of the world was very attractive for me,” said the 2005 Sprayberry High graduate who studied philosophy in college.
Avery was assigned to the small city of Apeyeme, which is home to around 6,000 residents.
“The program I am most proud of was the Men as Partners program,” he said. “It targets men in the community to teach them about gender equality and how they can improve women’s rights.”
Avery participated in several training seminars and volunteered with a girls education and empowerment program.
“It was a very satisfying project,” he said.
Another also worked with a small nongovernment agency funded by a German embassy grant to create seven local development committees, whose members were voted in by residents.
“That was awesome because people got really excited about voting,” he said. “They would have a band playing with women dancing in the voting lines.”
Avery said he would never forget the feeling of being on the other side of the world.
“I was lucky because Togo was in the mountains so it was just a few degrees cooler, which makes a big difference when it’s Africa,” he said.
Avery also had “relatively reliable” electricity and air conditioning but had to get his water from a rain catch cistern.
He isn’t sure what’s next for him because he is still digesting the experience but said he has applied for a position at Northside Hospital and is considering earning a masters of science in conflict management at Kennesaw State University.
He said his ideal job would be as a foreign services officer working with international aid organizations like Red Cross or UNICEF.