Peace Corps Experience Changed Mr. Guyette’s Worldview


Riley Guyette, Staff Writer, Journalism I

While most students know him for his math teaching and witty jokes, Mr Douglas Guyette has an interesting past with numerous stories to be told. 

Guyette was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but lived in California for five years of his early life. 

He taught for fifteen and a half years before coming to Notre Dame Academy about eight and a half years ago. 

After graduating from college Guyette decided to join the Peace Corps, a program run by the United States that has volunteers travelling abroad to work for two to three years.

“I was itching to travel and see the world a bit before I just settled into some life-long career,” said Guyette, “But my family didn’t come from money, so right out of college I really didn’t have the resources to go on some grand adventure.  Luckily, there was an extensive Peace Corps recruiting campaign going on at the time with the tagline ‘the toughest job you’ll ever love.’  It was a perfect option for me when I looked into it and discovered they had a need for secondary mathematics teachers.” 

Guyette spent two years in the Peace Corps teaching mathematics in Papua, New Guinea, but used the money he made from it to spend about ten weeks travelling to Thailand, India, and Western Europe. 

As far as interesting stories from his Peace Corps days, Guyette said there were “more than I can count.  There was the time we got lost overnight in the jungle while out looking for a pristine waterfall.  There was the time another volunteer and I hitchhiked across half of the country on one of the world’s most dangerous highways (notorious for highway robberies). There were the times my friends and I would jump off a nearby bridge and cook out on the riverbanks downstream.”

Even with the exciting experiences, there were also terrible things that Guyette witnessed.

“I was chaperoning a class picnic on the beach when one teacher’s only son went missing.  He was soon found drowned in the river.  He was five years old.  There was the tsunami that wiped out two villages near the town where I taught and killed two of my students.  One rainy morning I helped rush one of my colleagues to the hospital.  He had been out sick with a severe headache that morning, and by 10 a.m. he was having massive seizures.  He was able to be treated for cerebral malaria (the worst kind of malaria), and he survived but was never quite the same.” 

His time in the Peace Corps ultimately helped shape his worldview.

He learned that Americans are brought up in a society in which success is measured by good paying jobs and financial stability.

“When you meet someone here in the States, one of the first questions is ‘what do you do?’ but when you meet people in Papua, New Guinea, their first question is ‘what can you tell me about your family?’”

Mr Guyette said that he would recommend joining the Peace Corps to people today, although it’s not for everyone.

“The Peace Corps gives volunteers the chance to give back to society while at the same time exposing them to a broader worldview while offering valuable work experience.  If you do it right, you can forge friendships that span the globe and stories to bore your friends for a lifetime.”