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Joining Peace Corps: Interview with Jeffrey Tomas

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Where are you from?

I'm from Hilo, Hawaii

Where did you graduate from and what was your major?

I graduated from UH Hilo in the Fall semester of 2020 and majored in anthropology!

Where are you going to serve and in what sector?

I will be serving in the country of Zambia in the agriculture sector!

Why did you choose that place?

I actually didn't choose Zambia. I was initially considered for a coastal resource management position in the Philippines. However, after some thinking It felt like the right decision to ask my placement officer for a sector change from environmental to wherever an agriculture sector position was available. After asking for a sector change, I was then considered for the position in Zambia!

Why did you want to join the Peace Corps?

I wanted to join the Peace Corps because being able to learn more about agriculture and serve in a community for 2 years while growing in skills of something I'm passionate about was an opportunity I couldn't pass up applying for!

What are you most excited about?

I'm most excited to be immersed in a new culture, meet new people and develop lifelong friendships in the community I will be serving in. Being an adventurous eater, I'm also looking forward to putting myself out there and trying all kinds of different foods! I'm also very excited to travel to different places whenever I have the time to!

What are you going to miss?

I will definitely miss my family and friends the most.

Do you know anything about the country you will be living in yet?

I know that I will be working in rural aquaculture promotion within a farming community in Zambia. Aside from that, I'm excited to hear more in depth about Zambia during pre-service training and through further personal research about the country before I head out!

What is one thing you're definitely bringing with you?

I will definitely be bringing my guitar, bible, and a basketball/ ball pump with me! 

What do you hope to get out of your Peace Corps experience?

Knowing that serving as a Peace Corps volunteer will pose many challenges I hope that my dependence on God and my relationship with Jesus my Lord and Savior will reach greater heights than it ever has before. I also hope to grow more knowledgeable and skillful in all things agriculture so that when I return back home I can apply what I learned to my life, future career plans and hopefully my community too! 

Are you worried about anything? Nervous? If so, about what?

I'm pretty nervous to be so far away from home for 2 years because I've never done something like that before. I'm so thankful for my family and what they've done for me but I know that being away from home for 2 years will not only grow more of an appreciation in me for them but will also help me to transition to the next stage of my life and become more independent.   

What do your family and friends think about you leaving for two years to volunteer in the Peace Corps?

My family and friends have been nothing but supportive of me and knowing that gives me a lot of peace and confidence that I will be able to finish my 2 years of service without any disappointment or backlash from the ones I love the most. 

Advice for anyone applying or going through the application process?

My advice for anyone applying would be to definitely connect with a Peace Corps recruiter who can help you throughout the entire process! I'm not gonna lie, the process of applying takes a lot of work and can be stressful at times so having someone's input who has been through the entire process is extremely helpful. Don't feel like you're alone on it, reach out to your recruiter!

What is one of your favorite quotes that you'd like to share?

I am a Christian and believe in God of the bible so I just wanted to share this scripture with you guys that always encourages me! "Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28: 18-20. I chose this as my quote because it encourages me that wherever I go God is with me because His Holy Spirit lives in me. It also reminds me to live out my life as a faithful believer in Jesus through my actions and to take the opportunity to introduce people to Jesus that don't know Him when given that opportunity.