Peace Corps Writers
Le Onze Septembre (page 2)

Le Onze Septembre
page 1

As the towers fell one after another before my eyes, I stood there, transfixed to the news coverage. “Incroyable!” the reporter kept repeating. “Incroyable!”
     Fifteen minutes later, a Peace Corps car appeared at the front door and spirited me off to the training center, where most of the other Volunteers were already gathered around shortwave radios listening to the raw reports on the BBC. Everyone was clearly in shock with glazed looks on our faces.
     Within an hour, the Peace Corps country director arrived to talk to us. Soon after, the local government official came to offer his condolences in a heart warming gesture I would hear repeated by many sincere Guineans in the weeks to come.
     Instead of happily spending that last day saying good-bye to our host families, we spent it together at the training center, a confused community of Americans far from home during this horrible tragedy. For the first few hours, no one thought about leaving the training center.
     The next day was entirely too rushed. Our bus was leaving early for the capital, and I still had some packing to do that I had neglected from the day before. It wasn’t the happy, teary-eyed good-bye that I had imagined having with my family, but rather a somber, teary-eyed good-bye. “Du courage,” have courage, was all my father could say to me as we parted.
     Later that afternoon at the country director’s house in Conakry, the U.S. Ambassador swore us in as Peace Corps Volunteers. Just as American policy makers were preparing to launch a war on the Muslim world, I was preparing to go off to a Muslim village in West Africa to teach. I was being given the incredible task of showing these people another side of America so that, hopefully, they would see that we are more than just soldiers and action heroes. I hoped that, like all the words they taught me, I could teach them the meaning of at least one English word: Peace.


Matt Brown has traveled to and lived in over 30 African countries and is currently a freelance writer and photographer based in Northern California. Matt's work has appeared in Transitions Abroad, Travel Africa Magazine,,,, as well as the 2005 International Calendar produced by RPCVs of Wisconsin Madison.
     At the moment he is living in Healdsburg, California and dreaming of his next adventure. Contact Matt at

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