…The contents of this Web site are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps…

My name is Michael Waidmann and I am a Peace Corps Volunteer living in Bonga, Ethiopia. These are my stories, thoughts, and epiphanies. I serve in Bonga, Ethiopia, a beautiful rainforest town that is experiencing rapid growth. An unrelenting idealist and romantic, I’ve been hardened some by the realities of life, but I persevere. I do believe the most important tool a PCV can have is a sense of humor and the humility needed to endure without a toilet. I typically post here to work out some of my observations, reliving small details and figuring out large concepts. Often times I paint the pretty picture here, but that is how I try and live! I’m dirty and sick and often traveling by bus, but I am happy.

I’m working to rebuild our local school and I spend most of my time fundraising, organizing volunteer work days, designing solar light bulbs and making sure the correct materials are purchased. I also worked with the organization Peace Care to set up an annual medical seminar for rural health workers and teach English at the High School.

Even though it is challenging, difficult to navigate physically and culturally, I honestly love Ethiopia and the Peace Corps.

I mention my girlfriend, Carly all the time. Her awesome photography blog can be found at:


I also often talk about the health center run in the town of Chiri. It is a GREAT cause to donate to, run by amazing folks who save lives everyday.



14 comments on “About

  1. Karin says:

    Hi there! I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog; thanks for sharing your perspective. I am one of the group that is arriving in May and I am so excited! I do have a pretty specific question for you. I am kicking around the idea of getting a new camera and since you posted some great photos, I am curious about what kind of camera you’re using. If you’re willing, email when the opportunity arises. Thanks in advance.
    Kind Regards,

    • waidmann32 says:

      Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you. I never saw this comment. I have a Nikon coolpix L22 – a standard cheap digital camera. It works just fine for me and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if it was lost/broken. For those into photography, I would bring the best camera you can operate, this is a photogenic place and people!

  2. Kelly says:

    Hey! My husband,Joe and I are also in the group arriving in May.

    Thanks so much for your blog post on packing – I actually printed it and brought it with me to REI.

    So excited!

  3. Greg says:

    Hello. I’m a senior at JMU and Rob Jennings showed me your blog. I plan and joining the peace corps and currently my medical paperwork is being reviewed. I had a question about these unlocked GSM phones. I have never heard of them. How is service? They seem expensive, is there another cheaper option?

    Love reading the blog. Your stories are interesting and very entertaining.


  4. Johnny Coco says:

    Yo bro, send me an email with your email address so we can catch up. I am off the facebook child predator style so I cannot get your email through that line of communication. I have a tough time reading your blogpiece because I get jelly of all the adventures you have been up to. I remember kayaking with you along the potomac months ago talking about where our lives were heading. Even though you moved, we still live in the same time zone. I always said I put the adve in adverb and you put the adve in adventure. You should quit talking to Hawkins….Wurd to big burd.

  5. Waidy who knew you were so worldly!? Not me that’s for sure! I will def. be reading up on this!!

    xo Ashley

  6. Mary Kate says:

    Your in depth reflexions are excellent to read and there is so much feeling behind them.

  7. Ruth Zedalis Chandler says:

    Good work! Good luck on your blog. It´s great. Am enjoying reading about situations that haven´t really changed that much in an eon, Well, since the 60´s anyway. Sure hope PCVs still get a trunk full of books; the trunks make great foot stools when you get back home (?). (Although I loved that trunk. I think I read almost every one of those durn books out of sheer desperation—-no radio, no telephone, no TV and certainly no Dexter!)

  8. Amy says:

    Hey Michael–
    I’m an exchange student right now in Portoviejo, Ecuador. I found my way to your blog through a professor who’s son is also working in Africa with the Peace Corps. I’m sure our experiences have been incredibly different, but I found that I could connect so much with what you’ve said about the experiences of living abroad–away from everything familiar and comfortable–in a developing country. I’ve loved reading through some of this (want to be a Peace Corps volunteer someday too) and I was wondering if you’d mind if I quoted something from your “The Real Peace Corps” in my own blog.

    • waidmann32 says:

      Hey Amy, of course you can use something I wrote. What you are doing sounds cool and that is flattering that your professor showed you my blog. Good luck with Joining the PC!

  9. Chelsea says:


    I’ve read practically your entire blog now and I’m so inspired. You’re such an eloquent writer. I have recently finished my Peace Corps application and now I am just too anxious to hear back. Thank you so much for sharing your stories.


  10. Rachel says:

    Michael, your blog literally made me cry and laugh simultaneously. Our experiences as PCVs in different parts of the world are exactly the same and also completely different. I, too, have watched paint dry, joked about my poop and the fact that, no matter how hard we tried, we always smelled bad. I have sat on a bus while dreaming of personal space and calculating the very real threat of TB. Thank you for sharing your stories. You have captured some of the real essences of what it is to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. It can be sunshine and rainbows, but mostly when you least expect it to be and most of the time you are learning to be a better version of you through the highest highs and the lowest lows.

    In case you haven’t already read this wonderful article on being a global generation, check it out: http://www.npr.org/2012/07/10/156463825/globals-generation-focuses-on-experience

  11. Danna says:

    Michael, I have devoured every word and feel incredibly lucky to have stumbled onto your blog. Serving as a PCV in Kenya 2000-2004, I remember handwriting a newsletter and sending it back home for my mom to copy and mail out. The day I left Kenya, they installed a phone booth outside my compound…no phone, just the booth. What a difference 10 years makes in how we communicate. Much of what you write mirrors my experiences in Kenya – challenges when traveling, food experiences, integrating into my community. Over the years since I returned, I’ve found myself wanting back some of the calm and simple living I enjoyed overseas. So….off I go once again as a PCV in Ethiopia in October. Not sure if you’ve left yet…but if so, you have left a remarkable story – one that I’m sure I will laugh and remember as my own experiences unfold. Yachalal! Danna

    • waidmann32 says:

      Hey Danna,

      How cool that you are coming back! A girl from my high school will be in your group — small world. Good luck! Let me know any questions you have as you prepare and I’ll write up some advice for the new group

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