Mary Moyer was 10, in the fourth grade, when a Peace Corps volunteer who’d been stationed in Nepal spoke to her class.

“I went home that day and told my mom I wanted to do the Peace Corps,” Moyer said.

The St. Dom’s and University of Maine at Farmington grad leaves for Cameroon in September, where she’ll be a community health educator.

She’s powering up on milk, family and, well, access to consistent power. And she’s excited for the adventure ahead.

Name: Mary Beth Moyer

Age: 24


Hometown: Lewiston

What did you know about Cameroon when you first heard you’d be assigned there? I knew that it was a former French and British colony in West Africa. Other than that, I didn’t know much about it.

Most common reaction when friends/family hear you’re going abroad for 27 months: My friends and family have been extremely supportive and excited. Most see it as a natural progression of my previous travel experiences and volunteering, so I don’t get a specific reaction per se. Most reactions I get are from acquaintances, who are most often shocked that I’m moving away from friends and family for such a long time. They often say, “You’re going where for how long?!?”

Your response to them: Being grateful for their support. Not everybody has an amazing support network of family, friends and co-workers like I do. My response to acquaintances is that 27 months is a long time, but it takes time to build relationships with our communities and create sustainable change. That diplomacy in action is a long-term goal of Peace Corps.

What made the cut to be packed for your trip? Some clothes, though I will have most of my clothes tailor-made there. Basic toiletries, a small laptop, a solar charger, a travel pillow and blanket, a hammock, a small balsam pillow (I need a piece of Maine while I’m away), my Nook, and a binder filled with pictures of family and friends for when I feel homesick. I’m trying to pack as lightly as possible.

What narrowly missed the cut? I’ll have family send me some things once I move into my home that I might need for cooking and setting up my home, so I’m not packing those. I think the thing that narrowly (got left home) was a big luxurious bath towel. As much as I would love to bring one, I’m opting for a more compact one that will dry quickly and weigh less.


Farthest away you’ve traveled before: Australia and New Zealand with People To People Student Ambassadors. That was for 16 days and fueled the passion for travel that had been sparked by the (Peace Corps volunteer’s talk) a year before. I left the day after my 12th birthday and it was my first time flying commercially and my first time out of the country. It was on that trip that I learned how to travel.

Longest you’ve traveled before: Four months in 2011 during my semester abroad in Senegal, also a former French colony. But I don’t think of it as a trip because it became my home in many ways. The people I met became family. I hope to visit Senegal at some point during my service.

Comfort food you’ll miss most: All things dairy, especially cheese and non-powdered milk!

Convenience you’ll miss most: Probably my washing machine. My clothes are going to be hand washed for the next couple of years.

Most looking forward to in Cameroon: Meeting new people. Connecting with people is at the heart of Peace Corps’ mission and it is what I love most about going to foreign countries.

Follow Mary Moyer’s 27-month Peace Corps adventure in Cameroon on her blog:

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