Corps Values: Chateaubelair PCV feels at home in St Vincent
by Lainie Steelman
Quinta Seward, a Peace Corps Volunteer serving at the Fitz Hughes Government School, has been preparing for Peace Corps service for most of her life. Seward grew up in Santa Monica, California, but she was exposed to international service early in life.
Seward’s first introduction to the Peace Corps came when her father, an economist who taught at a university in Ghana, married a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Ghana. Later, her mother, at age 62, entered service in Cameroon in the economic development sector.
Her late mother’s decision to enter the Peace Corps later in life inspired Seward to do the same.
“Oftentimes we think of the Peace Corps as something young people do,” Seward said. “But I’ve always been interested in international work and serving local communities. This opportunity (to join the Peace Corps) came at a good time in my life.”
Working in a community development capacity in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is a natural extension of Seward’s previous work for a school and community-based non-profit organization.
At the Fitz Hughes Government School, Seward is working with her local counterpart teacher on developing the school library and training students to be school library assistants as well as leaders in the community.
“We are currently organizing the books by grade level and systematizing the library borrowing process,” Seward explained. “The students are very eager to take responsibility and to serve as leaders. They will become reading ambassadors to help promote the importance of reading and literacy, not only at the school, but throughout the neighborhood.”
Seward said her community in Chateaubelair feels like home to her because it has the same small beach town feel that African Americans felt living as a minority in Santa Monica, California, where she grew up.
“People are friendly, warm, and very gracious,” Seward said of Chateaubelair. “People greet each other regularly and they often drop fruits and vegetables by the house, invite me to family and community events and look out for me in every conceivable way. I feel totally integrated into my community and look forward to fulfilling my time here in a way that is meaningful to the community.”
Lainie Steelman is a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in SVG