Coming Home: Myanmar

Nobody wanted it to happen this way. 
Evacuation stories and the unfinished business of Peace Corps Volunteers around the world.

Schwedagon Pavilion, Yangon. Photo by Dharma from Sadao, Thailand
 

Myanmar | Quinton Eklund Overholser

Home: Elko, Nevada

“Hours before our flight, at our Close of Service conference, my country director asked me how I was feeling,” Quinton Eklund Overholser says. “Only then did I muster a single word: heartbroken.”

Overholser had dreamed of serving as a Volunteer in Myanmar since his first year of high school—before Peace Corps operated in Myanmar. A first-generation college student, he got his Peace Corps acceptance the day of his commencement ceremony at the University of Nevada at Reno.

 

Head of 100 Households: Quinton Overholser with his host family. Photo courtesy Quinton Overholser.

 

He loved every day in Myanmar: learning to read, write, and speak Myanma, and spending as much time as he could with the local family who hosted him. He went to meetings with his local father, the “Head of 100 Households” (mayor). He learned about Myanma music from his sister and played games with his brother. He was in training in Myanmar when the evacuation order came. The hardest part was leaving that family. 

Though he was happy to reunite with family in Nevada,  returning home under quarantine felt like a defeat. Overholser is still committed to returning to Myanmar as a Volunteer. The question is if and when that will be possible.

—Tasha Prados

 


This story was first published in WorldView magazine’s Summer 2020 issue. Read the entire magazine for free now in the WorldView app. Here’s how:

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