By Robert S. Benchley
Peace Corps volunteer Caitlin Lowery ’10 has broadened the focus of her assignment—teaching English at a 300-student public school—to embrace what might be called “lessons in life,” with a focus on girls and young women.
Lowery has been stationed for the past two years in the remote village of Dimi, Georgia, situated at the eastern end of the Black Sea.
“I am passionate about women’s rights and helping women and girls live healthy lives and reach their full potential,” say Lowery. “One project I am most proud of is the women’s health fair I organized with help from other Peace Corps volunteers and in partnership with a local women’s health organization. Thirteen NGOs participated in the event and set up information booths about health issues and the services their organizations provide.”
Lowery says the women were grateful for the information and the health care product samples they received—both rare commodities in conservative Georgia. Lowery’s position as co-chair of Peace Corps Georgia’s gender equality and women’s empowerment committee has also enabled her to stage other events, such as Sisters, which brings rural girls to the capital city of Tbilisi, a nearly five-hour drive over often-rough roads, to meet successful female university students who serve as mentors.
Lowery says her time at Lafayette—especially her translation work for Jorge Torres, associate professor of music, her courses in Spanish translation with Juan Rojo, assistant professor of Spanish, and studies of international politics with Ilan Peleg, Dana Professor of Government and Law—gave her an excellent base for working abroad and a start toward her “dream job” in the Foreign Service.
An English and Spanish graduate, Lowery has managed to master the consonant clusters of the Georgian language. She also uses exercises learned as a member of the swimming and diving team to stay in shape and teaches them twice a week at the after-school fitness club she runs for teenage girls.
Even with these outside accomplishments, Lowery has excelled at her original directive, planning the Imereti regional level of Georgia’s first National English Spelling Competition and, working with her counterparts, implementing a project to bring running water to her school.
In July, when she completes her assignment, she plans to spend a month touring Southeast Asia and then go home to be with family, including brother Rob Lowery ’16 and friends. As for longer-term plans, Lowery says she hopes to “get more work experience, ideally at an international NGO focused on women’s issues, before going to grad school.”