September 12, 2019
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -
For Megan Rossi ’12, Study Abroad Coordinator at Mount Saint Mary College, her trip to Malawi, Africa this summer was a homecoming.
Upon graduating from the Mount, Rossi began a three-year volunteer mission to Malawi via the Peace Corps, starting in March of 2013. She would stay there for the next three years before returning to the United States.
But ever since then, Rossi has felt a deep desire to return to her friends halfway around the world.
“When I’m back in Malawi, it feels like home,” she explained. “I have so many friends there and I love Malawi so much; I just needed to go back. This trip reminded me of how beautiful the world is.”
Malawi, located near Zambia and Mozambique, is about the same size as Pennsylvania, but is home to nearly 20 million people. It’s almost 8,000 miles away from New York.
During her recent return trip, Rossi first visited her host family in Mangwazu. Back in 2013, that village was where Rossi became acclimated to the culture, traditions, and everyday life of Malawi. Then Rossi visited the village of Dwambazi, where she stayed for the majority of her time as a member of the Peace Corps.
“It was very emotional,” she recalled. “As soon as I saw the sign welcoming me to Dwambazi, I instantly started crying out of happiness that I was able to come back and be with the people that I love and care about.”
The people of Dwambazi were overjoyed to welcome Rossi back. Even the cat she had adopted while in Malawi was waiting there for her.
“The smiles on their faces – they were so excited,” Rossi said. “I surprised some of my neighbors and they were so happy to see me. A Malawian greeting is the warmest welcome.”
But it wasn’t just her friends Rossi visited: “I wanted to see how the village was developing since I left. I wanted to check on my projects,” she explained.
She was happy to see that the garden she planted is thriving. In addition, Rossi had spearheaded a campaign to build nearly 70 pit latrines within the village, paid for by a grant. She was pleased to discover that the latrines are still functional, structurally sound, and in use.
Before she headed back to the United States, the village chief of Dwambazi told her there was some land available in the village if she ever wanted to stay. That’s not outside the realm of possibility, Rossi noted.
“One day, I do see myself settling there,” she said. “I’d love to build a house in Dwambazi, someday years down the line. I’ve felt such a connection with Malawi. It’s changed the person I am today. It’s my second home.”
Before joining the Peace Corps, Rossi was already a world wanderer, having spent time in Lebanon, South Africa, Thailand, Cambodia, and beyond. The travel bug first bit her when she was in high school, a result of accompanying her grandmother on a trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina. As the college’s Study Abroad Coordinator, Rossi uses her experience to promote overseas service opportunities to current Mount students.