S EW ICK LEY
SP EAK IN G
GOOD TO THE CORPS As students at SA and around the nation prepare for life after graduation, thoughts often turn to college, grad school, internships and careers, marriage, family, and so on. Life, however, doesn’t always follow that clear path. The life of Caroline Lord MacKenzie ’62 has not followed the typical trajectory and that is just the way she likes it. Caroline has lived in Italy, Singapore, and Belgium, worked at the San Diego Museum of Art and the U.S. State Department, coached tennis, and even sold shoes. Most recently and perhaps most impressively, Caroline is completing a three-year volunteer project with the Peace Corps in Luhansk, Ukraine. As Caroline tells the story, it all started during her daily two-hour commute through Los Angeles when she heard an interview with the Peace Corps director, Aaron Williams, on NPR. “The director was making a pitch for what are known as ‘senior volunteers.’ He was explaining that the Peace Corps needed more volunteers with actual experience as opposed to the more common applicants who are straight out of college and have little to no professional skills. I thought, ‘Hey, I can do that!’” Caroline completed an application and went back to her normal routine. Before she knew it, she was attending recruiting events in Southern California, meeting people from the program and getting excited about the prospect of volunteering overseas. She says, “The hardest part was telling my boss of seven years about the opportunity, but her response was, ‘Caroline, this is you.’”
Caroline Lord MacKenzie ‘62 is completing a three-year volunteer project with the Peace Corp in Ukraine.
As a senior volunteer, Caroline’s options for placement in the Peace Corps were limited. “At first, I wanted to be placed in Nicaragua or Southeast Asia, but my age was an issue for both programs. So I had to ask, ‘Where am I young enough to volunteer?’” she laughs. The answer was Eastern Europe. Ukraine is the largest Peace Corps post on the globe with over 400 active volunteers living and working there at any given time. Caroline is posted in Luhansk, a smaller city in the Russian-speaking part of Ukraine.
rights, and written grants for additional funding for the organization’s many initiatives. However, much to her surprise, Caroline feels that her biggest impact at the organization has been through her weekly English classes and art therapy sessions. She meets with a group of students ages 6-30 every Friday for a weekly English class in the local library, the only facility in the area that provides access for the disabled and can accommodate her classes. Teaching a group with such a range of ages and disabilities can prove to be a big challenge for any teacher, but Caroline understands the value of the sessions even with these limitations.
Caroline’s service is with the Association for the Young Disabled of the Eastern Donbass-East Region, Ukraine. This 7-year-old organization strives to improve living conditions for disabled individuals, supports legislation that will protect the rights of the disabled, and provides support services to individuals and families with a variety of disabilities and needs. Caroline’s role in the organization has taken many shapes since she first moved to the country in April of 2010. She has participated in city-wide conferences centered on issues for the disabled, given presentations on the American Disabilities Act and American standards for access and individual
“The Peace Corps is a way to see the world, one person at a time.”
“When I first arrived, I asked if I could split the students into different groups by age, but my colleagues just looked at me and said, ‘Caroline, this is the only time we can get them here.’ Transportation is so difficult for many of the students that our driver needs to go and pick each of them up individually,” she explains. While Caroline is teaching, the families of the students meet with the organization’s directors to learn more about legislative actions and
Published on Feb 27, 2012
Sewickley Speaking is the alumni magazine for Sewickley Academy - a premier Pittsburgh private school enrolling students in pre-k through gr...