Heading to Gambia: Hastings native joins Peace Corps
Taylor Wickberg always dreamed of teaching overseas.
Now, as a member of the Peace Corps, the Hastings native is doing just that.
Wickberg left for Gambia in early June to teach literacy and assist teachers in the African country. It's the third time she's done some form of work overseas, she said.
"I'm just really excited to go over there and do my job," Wickberg said. "I'm only 23, I'm making a huge jump. I'm super ready."
Previously, the Hastings High School graduate worked on two other mission trips, one in medical work and another in education, Wickberg said. The education trip helped cement her desire to teach children across the ocean.
"I knew from that moment that I wanted to do long-term missions and wanted to teach overseas," she said.
Wickberg had previously applied for the Peace Corps once in Jamaica, but didn't get it. She reapplied for a position in the St. Lucia Islands, but the organization was familiar with her background in Africa, she said.
"The Peace Corps knew that my heart was really in Africa, and so they asked me to apply and go to Gambia," Wickberg said.
While the Peace Corps isn't a mission trip, Wickberg said she's excited to do the work and be able to pursue her faith as well.
"I'm expectant of what God's going to do for me and I know he's going to be with me 100%," she said.
Wickberg recently graduated college at the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota with a degree in elementary education — where she gained a passion for English as a second language education, she said.
Wickberg's trip will last 27 months, where she will be focused on teaching English, assisting other teachers and working on community development projects, she said.
The first three months of her trip are with a host family, where she will learn about the country's culture and language. Afterwards, she will be assigned to a community to work for two years.
According to the Peace Corps, Wickberg will be one of 214 other Minnesotans working in the Peace Corps and more than 7,079 since 1961.