Armed with an interest in international affairs, and a desire to serve others and challenge himself, Blake Troxel has traveled the world, touching lives along the way. Now nearing the completion of his first year with U.S. Peace Corps in Vanuatu, a remote cluster of islands in the South Pacific, Troxel can’t imagine another path at this time.
“I feel extremely lucky for this opportunity,” Troxel said. “I am enjoying life here immensely.”
Troxel credits his sociology classes at Wittenberg for giving him a different perspective of the world as well as a 2004 service trip to Nicaragua for inspiring him to serve.
“The trip was not about giving material possessions to those who are without, but rather it was about connecting with people,” Troxel said.
In Vanuatu, Troxel lives with an extended family, which has formally “adopted” him, and regularly converses in Bislama, the native language.
“I can pretty much talk to anyone in Bislama, but the hardest part is just creating common ground with the people of the village to have something to talk about with them,” Troxel said. “That’s the most challenging part for me.”
Troxel also spends his time assisting with math and science classes at the local primary school called Losalava, including teaching, training and tutoring. In addition, he helps writing grants for buildings and renewable energy projects, and he recently set up a library.
“I go to the school pretty much everyday at least for a few hours, if not more, and I’m starting to feel more comfortable at the school setting,” he said. “The government’s education system has little to no money and most, if not all, of the schools need considerable help – more resources/materials, teachers, buildings, funds.”
Troxel has also been approached to help with some projects in other communities, including a local marine conservation project and a sea cucumber farming project.
Despite the intense heat and mosquitoes, Troxel believes such inconveniences are a small price to pay to be in Vanuatu.
“I am extremely appreciative of every day, more so than ever before.”