Jordan Pollard ’23 developed a passion for traveling at a young age.
Inspired by family trips to remote locations often overlooked by conventional tourists, Pollard found that she was at her happiest when immersed in cultures she knew little about. While peers in school recounted visits to destinations like Disney World, Pollard spoke proudly of pilgrimages to places like Jerome, Arizona, a former copper-mining community located on an isolated hillside in the center of the state.
“I love to travel but I don’t really like going to resorts or things like that,” said Pollard, who transferred to Colby-Sawyer as a junior and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design this past spring. “Growing up, our vacations were usually camping trips or going to these unique little towns across the country. And so, I’ve always been looking for ways to continue doing that but in a meaningful way.”
Pollard found the perfect opportunity to do just that in the Peace Corps, a government organization that sends volunteers to underdeveloped countries to teach residents about advancements in industry, agriculture, education and healthcare. And while admittedly skeptical she’d be admitted — according to the Peace Corps, only 23% of applicants are offered a volunteer position — Pollard said she was thrilled to be notified that her application had been approved.
So, later this summer, Pollard will pack her bags and set out for Lesotho, a landlocked, enclave country encircled completely by South Africa, where she’ll spend the next two years teaching English to children. Pollard said she had never heard of Lesotho, home to 2.2 million people, prior to her acceptance into the Peace Corps, but has done plenty of research in the weeks since.
Formerly a British colony, Lesotho was granted independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, and is now a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and the African Union. Residents of the country primarily speak Sesotho, a Southern Bantu language spoken by roughly 5.6 million people, though Pollard said English is becoming more and more popular as the country pushes to boost its economy.
“I’m so excited,” said Pollard, adding that her willingness to volunteer anywhere took a bit of stress out of the application process and may have made her application more attractive. “I really wanted to travel, and I just feel like this is a fun way to do it while helping people at the same time. And I’m really excited to be going to Southern Africa.”
According to Pollard, Peace Corps volunteers are expected to work during the week but have weekends free and are granted additional days off for every month of their two-year stay. She said she expects that at least some of her downtime will be spent exploring the Maloti Mountains, which contain the highest peaks in Southern Africa — including Thabana Ntlenyana, at 11,424 feet. An avid hiker, Pollard is no stranger to summiting the tallest mountains in her area. As of May’s Commencement ceremony, she had successfully scaled 18 of New Hampshire’s 48 mountains with elevations of at least 4,000 feet.
Pollard, who was awarded both the Graphic Design Capstone Award and the Graphic Design Baccalaureate Award, said she’s hopeful she’ll be able to incorporate art into her interactions with the children in Lesotho. Whether that’s possible or not, she said she fully expects to utilize her degree upon her return to the United States, adding that she’d like to work in marketing or branding eventually.
Pollard said that though the thought of being so far from home is certainly a little intimidating, it doesn’t outweigh the enthusiasm she feels for what’s ahead.
“I mean, it’s definitely scary, because I’ve never really lived alone. So that part is definitely going to be an adjustment,” Pollard said. “And leaving all my friends and family. But I’m so excited. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”