An RPCV Who Never Came Home

I  met up this past week with Sara Dixon Hester in Hempstead, England where Sara has lived most of her life since her volunteer days as a PCV in Addis Ababa and Shashamane, Ethiopia.

I was an APCD when Sara arrived in 1965. Sara, in her first year, went on a blind date (arranged by another PCV) and met John Hester, a Brit teaching at the Wingate School, and one of the ex-pats involved with a theater group in Addis.

It was Sara’s second year in Ethiopia when she had the date and she had already ‘begged’ me to move her out of the city and I agreed to do so, just before she met the ‘man of her life.’ So John Hester and Sara had a long-distance romance in Ethiopia. Luckily, Hester had a car to get him on weekends down into the Rift Valley to Shashamane, a town 2-3 hours from Addis.

After they were married in Atlanta, Georgia, Sara’s home town, John and she taught in Nassau before moving permanently to Hempstead where Sara gave birth to their daughter who at the age of nine declared she wanted to become a ballerina dancer when she grew up, and she did become a highly successful professional dancer and had a long career in England and on the continent.

John Hester passed away several years ago and soon after Sara retired from her career as the Headmistress of a private elementary school in Hempstead. Today, she continues to be involved with her church and the village of Hemstead and while once she was a southern girl born and raised in Tennessee and Georgia who came to Ethiopia speaking English as if she had a mouth full of molasses, now she speaks with a proper English accent, just another wonderful ‘Miss Jean Brodie’ in her prime.

And another RPCV who never came home.



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  • Sara, you have a beautiful life filled with friends like our John Coyne. I have mentioned to John many times…”where would any of us be had there never been a Peace Corps?” Life would different for all of us. I wish you well, Bob

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