Wanderlust Satisfied is the story of Kay Gillies Dixon (Colombia 1962–64), one of the first Peace Corps Volunteers, and her personal search through her two years of service, and how that experience changed everything about the rest of her life. Like so many Volunteers, she determined to follow her own ideals and dreams and unlearn the “Shoulds” and “Have-tos” she had been assigned by society.
Kay was reared in a small town in western Pennsylvania, in the 1950s, during simpler times when a long distance telephone call was a big deal, and television sets displayed only three channels — all of them featuring stories about the Cold War, Nikita Khrushchev, and the Berlin Wall on the evening news. At the same time our country was caught in the struggle for basic civil rights for all peoples as Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference worked to register voters throughout the South.
As a college student, Kay participated in discussions about these issues that left her confused, unsettled and disturbed, and as her graduation neared she was frightened by what the future might hold and what her place in the world would be. Discussions with her family were even more unsettling. They felt that her immediate focus should be on finding meaningful work so that she could support her younger brother’s college education, and that she should let someone else solve the world’s problems. They questioned why she should care about the poor people in other countries or even in our country?
Then in 1960 Americans elected a new president who spoke to Kay as he challenged young people to reach out around the world to learn, to study other cultures and perhaps to make a difference in some small way. It was this challenge and the social revolution of the 1960s that propelled her to exit her environment, and explore places she had only read or heard about. Fresh out of college with no career path, this was a time to explore and realize some of her dreams.
She left her family and friends speechless when she departed for Peace Corps training at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque the summer of 1962. Later, when she began her first full-time job as a Peace Corps Volunteer working in a red light district in Medellín, Colombia, she knew it was impossible to share that information with those back home!
Wanderlust Satisfied continues with yet another twist when Kay married Kevin, a fellow Colombia RPCV, who shared her wanderlust, and they moved their family to Saudi Arabia and lived there for five years. That unique experience gave Kevin and Kay the opportunity to introduce their young daughters to the world and rear them to respect the cultural mores of other countries, including the laws of sharia that govern the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.