Christine Smith is on the edge of a life-changing adventure that will see her spend more than two years serving in the Peace Corps. Currently the medical records clerk at Longview Orthopedic Associates, she will soon begin an assignment in Senegal, where she will be working in environmental education.
She expects that projects could include digging new wells, clearing standing water, handing out mosquito nets to reduce malaria, planting community gardens, setting up waste disposal practices, building permanent latrines, and teaching people the importance of washing hands with soap – or all of the above.
“I love learning about other cultures and languages,” she said. “When I went to China in 2002, I loved talking to the students. Our similarities far outweigh our differences, especially when those differences are so grossly exaggerated by the political and media culture. The best way to build bridges is to take the time to listen and get to know one another. The Peace Corps also gives me a chance to give back. As an American I am extremely lucky on a multitude of levels, and I want to reach out and help others in whatever way I can.”
Christine graduated from R. A. Long High School in 2005 and the University of Washington in 2009, earning a degree in European Studies with a minor in French. That language background is the reason she was assigned to Senegal, which is a former French colony.
After college, she returned to Longview and worked as a receptionist at a local law office before coming to LOA in March 2010. As the clinic’s medical records clerk, she is in charge of preparing charts for upcoming appointments and handling a wide range of records requests and filing.
“I rarely sit down for more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time,” she said. “LOA has 30 years’ worth of records and they are kept in different places depending on which year the patient was last seen, so I am always up and down the stairs or off to a storage site for charts.”
After completing her Peace Corps service Christine plans to study international law and eventually work in the foreign service. However, she is keeping her options open.
“I know that Peace Corps service can completely change a person’s goals and perceptions.”