Cheshire’s Anne Wnuck has a plan for her future.
It involves working for government or non-government agencies, or even charities, to help nations implement development plans that improve the lives of their citizens.
She’ll be getting a head start on that work beginning next month.
On Friday, Jan. 31, Wnuck, who graduated from Dalhousie University last spring with a degree in international development studies, will board a plane and head to Nepal, the start of her two-year service in the Peace Corps. While in the South Asian country, Wnuck will serve as an English Education Teacher, but will also work with both individuals and organizations on “sustainable, community-based development projects” that address problems within those neighborhoods and regions, according to a release from the Peace Corps.
“I am so excited,” Wnuck told The Herald, approximately three weeks before her slated departure for Nepal. “Ever since I was young, I’ve had a great affinity for the Peace Corps and its mission. This will be an experience I’ll never forget.”
Wnuck, who graduated from Cheshire High School in 2015, began the intensive application process back in June, almost immediately after earning her degree from Dalhousie. “I knew how (selective) they are, and it was in no way a guarantee I would be accepted (into the Corps),” she admitted.
To even be considered, Wnuck had to fill out numerous applications, submit to interviews, including ones done over the Internet, and even take required physical exams to determine if she was ready for such a commitment.
Finally, in August, Wnuck received word: She would be heading to Nepal at the beginning of 2020.
“Nepal is such a beautiful country. The people are so friendly, and the food … I love the (traditional Nepalese food), so I am so excited for that,” she said, laughing.
Though this will be her first time visiting Nepal, Wnuck is no stranger to South Asia. While a student at Dalhousie, she spent a summer studying in India, where she familiarized herself with the culture and the Hindi language.
That experience is what drew Wnuck to request Nepal as her destination because, despite the numerous differences between Nepal and South India, where Wnuck spent her time, the similarities between the cultures could, she feels, help smooth the transition.
“Hindi shares the same alphabet and many of the same words with Nepali, so I thought that would be of benefit. I will know (some of) the language,” Wnuck explained.
However, the 23-year-old understands the unique nature of the experience she’s about to undertake. Spending two years in Nepal will mean acclimating to every aspect of the region and creating for herself a new home. It will also mean accepting her status as a foreigner.
“When I was in (India), I stood out. We all stood out,” she recalled. “That’s the thing: You are an outsider, so some people might be a bit distrustful at first.”
The first three months of Wnuck’s stay will involve intensive training, in both the language and the customs of the region. Afterwards, a determination will be made as to where in Nepal she will be based for her remaining 24 months.
Already, she has met many Nepalese who have offered her invaluable advice on the dos and don’ts of living in the country. She plans to heed that advice.
“I know it may be difficult at first, but I am hoping that, after a few months, I’ll have made new friends and new connections,” she said. “I want to be open and willing to learn all the time, and I hope that, by showing a positive attitude, I can really become a part of the community there.”