Geof Giacomini ’98

Egypt country director for Save the Children.

Egypt country director for Save the Children

Kyrgyzstan 1999–2001

I went to Kyrgyzstan with a love for Russian literature and found myself transformed. To kids ages 11–17 I taught English as a foreign language well as American literature and journalism. I sponsored an existential philosophy club, softball games, Model United Nations, and summer camps in ecology and leadership. I also became a champion kok chai (green tea) drinker!

You should always be curious, always brave, I learned. Values are not inherited, and education can only pass on an intellectual awareness of them; they are formed and understood when you confront values different from yours and struggle with them, their justifications and rationales.

I chose to extend for a third year (Peace Corps service is usually a two-year commitment). Then Sept. 11, 2001. Peace Corps was evacuated less than 10 days later, and I left my new home.

I now work in international development, supporting projects that embody the values I had or developed during my Peace Corps service: a commitment to human dignity, equality of opportunity, better health care and education for all, and respect for diversity. After working with Save the Children in Azerbaijan, I arrived in Cairo in mid-February, the day before (former President) Mubarak stepped down. What a wild ride it’s been. If I do my job well, then at some point I won’t have a job. We could even make this profession unnecessary. We just have to figure out how to eradicate poverty.

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2020 is not the first time Santa Clara University has weathered pandemic and natural disasters.