Peace Corps brings recreation park and tourism management alumna new perspective

December 09, 2019
Lynde Metzler, Peace Corps

Lynde Metzler recently started a two-year placement with the Peace Corps in Tonga, where she works as an English language facilitator, teaching English and environmental education to elementary school students. 

IMAGE: Lynde Metzler

When Lynde Metzler accepted a job with the Peace Corps over 7,000 miles from home, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Metzler hadn’t considered the Peace Corps as an option, but became interested when she heard from professors and friends about their own experiences.

Now that she’s serving, having started her placement this summer, the 2019 graduate of Penn State’s Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management program has learned more from her experiences than she could have ever imagined.

Stationed in Tonga, a remote Polynesian kingdom in the South Pacific Ocean, Metzler works as an English literary facilitator on Vava’u, one of 170 Tongan islands. As a Peace Corps volunteer, Metzler teaches English and environmental education to elementary-aged students.

“In this role, I have the opportunity to learn as much from the Tongan people as I am teaching to them,” Metzler said. “Thankfully, I can lean on my professional experiences at Penn State to guide me in my role as an ambassador of U.S. culture and the Peace Corps.”

Lynde Metzler standing at front of classroom teaching in Tonga.

What Metzler likes most about living abroad is building relationships with the students and members of the community.

IMAGE: Lynde Metzler

At Penn State, Metzler pursued opportunities in outdoor experiential learning, which had her interacting with students outside traditional classroom settings. Through a minor in leadership in sustainability, she traveled with Parks and People Tanzania in 2018, which engages students in a conversation about the competing demands between nature conservation and human development. She also worked with the Outdoor School at Shaver’s Creek, an environmental education experience for elementary students, and with Penn State Campus Recreation as a team building facilitator with outdoor adventures.

“These positions really helped me build self confidence as an educator and team leader, and develop a lot of professionalism in a teaching environment. They definitely gave me the backbone to speak with mindfulness and intention when I am interacting with students and instructing.”

So when she found herself in a classroom setting in Tonga, Metzler wasn’t sure what to expect. Although still new to the position, she has been inspired by her experiences at Penn State to propose new methods of teaching in what tends to be traditional “blackboard learning” classrooms.

“I think the teachers are willing to embrace new style of teaching. I am excited that I can come here with the experience to help build that curriculum, and work with my fellow teachers. The beach is 10 steps away from the classroom, so there is a whole world of outdoor education opportunities available here.”

Discovering those new possibilities and building relationships with communities are what Metzler likes most about living abroad. While she was in Tanzania, she met a woman who was the first person in her village to go to secondary school, and developed a relationship with her and her children through cooking.

“When I came back from Tanzania, I realized that’s what I wanted: an extended time living abroad that would allow me to build meaningful relationships with local villages and communities. The Peace Corps is a two-year commitment, and the relationships are a large part of the job. They highly influence the impact you can make.”

Last Updated December 09, 2019