Whitney Spake, a senior history major from Chattanooga, Tennessee, has joined the Peace Corps and will depart for Armenia in March of 2018.
Before the summer of 2016, Spake had never left the country, but has now traveled to over 20 countries including Portugal, Tunisia and Kyrgyzstan.
“I love traveling,” Spake said. “It’s what I live for. I love seeing the different peoples, cultures and languages. Plus, the food is always fantastic.”
This past summer, Spake traveled to 17 countries, where she had various jobs along the way. She taught English in Poland and France, developed a research project for college credit and worked for a travel company.
“I’m a history major, so it’s really cool to see what I’ve learned everywhere I go,” Spake said. “I’m happiest when I’m just wandering around with a suitcase.”
Spake said her desire to join the Peace Corps stemmed from a government class that she took her first semester at Troy with LaKerri Mack, assistant professor of political science.
“We discussed jobs in the Peace Corps,” she said. “Since then, I have been researching it nonstop, and I finally applied in February.”
Spake discovered in April that she will be teaching English in Armenia with the Peace Corps; she is excited to return to Armenia because she has a deep appreciation for the country.
“I went to Armenia last summer, and it’s one of my favorite countries in the world,” Spake said. “That’s what I’ve studied in history; I actually wrote my senior thesis on Armenia. When I saw the job open teaching English there, I got my application in right away.”
According to Spake, it benefited her to travel to Armenia before and develop her knowledge of the country.
“(When you apply), you pick your top three countries, and you don’t always get your first pick, let alone any of your top three,” Spake said. “I’ve been there —I have friends there—and I absolutely adore the country.
“I would love to live there for two years, and I’m really fortunate that I actually got my first pick.”
While she said she finds herself lucky to depart for a country she knows so much about, she insisted that, regardless of where she was sent, she would have been just as excited to go.
“I would have been happy anywhere I went and served wherever,” she said. “It just makes it even better that it’s a country that I have such strong feelings for.”
Spake said she finds traveling to be exciting and rewarding and encourages everyone to travel as much as they can.
“I don’t like to spend my money, but when it comes to travel, the money has nothing on the experience,” she said. “It’s the best thing ever to just be more aware of what’s going on.”
While there are certain fears associated with traveling outside the United States, she said she feels it best to let go of the fear, book a ticket and go.
“Anything can happen wherever you go,” she said. “Strip away your fear. Just go, and fall in love with the world.”
You can read more about Spake’s previous experiences and follow her future travel adventures at whereintheworldiswhitney.com.