29 October 2010

In memoriam

Early this week, my APCD from Peace Corps, Sebraogo Kiendrebeogo, passed away after fighting cancer for several months. He was 40 years old. He leaves behind his wife and two young children.

I don't think I ever really talked about Seb here. I mostly talked about my fieldwork. Oh heck, let's be honest: I mostly talked about myself. But let me tell you about my boss, Seb, who was one of the greatest bosses I've ever had - and I've been fortunate enough in my career to work for some pretty amazing people.

Seb had been a teacher here in Burkina himself before working with the Peace Corps. He then worked with the Peace Corps for several years, first as a technical coordinator for stagiares for both Secondary Education and Girls' Education and Empowerment, and finally as the APCD for Secondary Education. But that's just his resumé. It tells you that he had the knowledge, but it doesn't begin to convey how he used it, how devoted he was to his colleagues, how ardent he was about helping people.

I chose that last adjective with care; I'd originally written "...how serious he was about helping people." Not that he didn't take his work seriously, but it's hard to use the word "serious" to describe someone whose smile and whose laugh were so infectious. And who did both so very, very often. You couldn't stay in a bad mood when Seb was in the room.

Peace Corps is a tough job, and how much a Volunteer enjoys it, and how successful she or he is, depends in no small part on the support he or she receives from the main office. The Peace Corps Burkina office is an incredibly supportive group of people. Everyone there goes out of his or her way to help the Volunteers, often working long hours and well outside of their written job descriptions to do whatever it takes. And even among such a group of supportive, wonderful people, Seb stood out.

Goodbye, Seb. The world's a better place for your having been in it.

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