Sally LaRue is one of the first PCVs to enroll in the online MFA program at California’s National University. It is the start, I hope, of a full class of PCVs and RPCVs getting MFAs in Creative Writing from the special MFA program I’m trying to start that focuses on Peace Corps writers. This writing MFA is sponsored by Peace Corps Writers and the NPCA. I asked Sally to write a short note about how it is going for her as she is in her second year in Mongolia as a TEFL teacher in a secondary school where, she also writes, “I spend a lot of time teaching students funny dances.”
Only two classes into the MCW program at NU, I have written more and learned more about writing than ever before. I debated for some time about the benefits of a Master’s degree in Creative Writing. Would the program only stifle my creativity? Why get a Master’s when I could just independently learn all that it would teach? Who cares about a Master’s in Creative Writing anyways… isn’t the writing supposed to speak for itself? After weighing the options and seeking advice from family and friends, I decided to go for it. Every single day since then, I have consciously thought about how glad I am to be doing this. The program has already exceeded my expectations. The education available here is far beyond anything independent study could provide. The professors and classes are constructive and encouraging. In no way have my imagination or ideas been suppressed. This program is a daily motivation to push myself and go beyond my limits, to stretch and grow my writing craft.
As a current Peace Corps Volunteer, balancing life between service and school has its challenges, but it’s all worth it. While PC service is rewarding on many levels, they don’t call it “the toughest job you’ll ever love” without reason. Working towards my Master’s has given me meaning and excitement in the time I spend at home. It has been an outlet of passion as I close out the last year of service in Mongolia.
You can read about Sally and her husband’s experiences in Mongolia at: http://calsalmongolia.blogspot.com/