A 22-year-old Rush City woman is a long way from home in her ambition to help others through the Peace Corp.
Camillia Freeland-Taylor departed for Zambia in Southern Africa on Feb. 11 to begin training as a Linking Income, Food and Environment (LIFE) volunteer. She aims to generate income, food production and agriculture business in her local community. She recently reflected on the beginning of her journey.
“I think it was the combination of getting to travel, learn a new language and help people all at the same time that attracted me to become a Peace Corps volunteer,” said Freeland-Taylor, daughter of Gary Freeland and Sara Taylor.
A 2008 graduate of Rush City High School, she went on to Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., where she grew as a person and then some while earning a Bachelor’s degree in Chinese and business in 2012.
“Concordia as a whole is an institution that engages in every avenue of the world, especially exploring new fronts and problems,” Freeland-Taylor noted. “It has not only expanded my knowledge and enthusiasm to learn, but also positively influenced my faith and values. I look forward to using my experiences and knowledge in the coming years in Zambia.”
During the first three months of her service in Zambia, she will complete technical, language, health and safety training while living with a host family to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. The training and cultural exchange are designed to prepare Freeland-Taylor for her two years of service and allow community members to gain a better understanding of Americans.
Once she is sworn into service and assigned to a community, she will work on sustainable, community-driven development projects that benefit the people of Zambia. The experience also will provide her with leadership and cross-cultural skills, which she can use throughout her career.
Freeland-Taylor said her aunt, Brenda Taylor, who has traveled to Tanzania for a mission trip, inspired her.
“I’ve always wanted to do some kind of service work after college,” she said. “My aunt planted a seed in me. She has always been my rock, and thanks to her example, I’m following my dreams.”
Freeland-Taylor joins the 233 Minnesota residents currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 6,287 Minnesota residents have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.
About Peace Corps/Zambia: Nearly 1,435 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Zambia since the program was established in 1993. Currently, 284 volunteers serve in Zambia, working in the areas of education, community development, environment, agriculture, health and business. Volunteers are trained and work in the following languages: Bemba, Kaonde, Lunda, Mambwe, Nyanja, Tonga and Tumbuka.
About the Peace Corps: Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 210,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 8,073 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development.
Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old, and service is a 27-month commitment. The agency’s mission: to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.