Nic Stevens was an intern for CARE during his senior year of college in 2018. After graduation, he joined the Peace Corps. and moved to Madagascar. Nic asked to share his journey with financial literacy on our blog and we were happy to oblige. Here is part 1 of his journey with CARE and financial literacy.
In the spring of 2018, I spent my final college semester in Alexandria interning at CARE. Prior to this experience, I had never heard of Credit Abuse Resistance Education. I was not aware that bankruptcy and finance professionals were educating students in American schools. Personally, I had no academic background in finance or accounting, and I had never received financial literacy training during my formal education. Without any background, CARE provided me with an opportunity to educate myself. Hours of creating, organizing, and publishing content made me a collateral student of CARE’s core materials. Finally, as a final-semester-college-senior about to face a world of debt, loans, taxes, and perhaps even checkbooks, I was genuinely interested in the information CARE offered. I spent the whole semester absorbing the very content I was working to promote and left college all the more prepared for the financial aspects of adult life.
Putting My New Financial Skills to the Test
That summer, I became a poster child for budgeting. After each shift waiting tables at a seafood joint in Boston, I rode the subway home, scribbling my day’s tips in a notebook, and then subtracting the metro fare. I started leaving my credit card and debit card at home and bringing cash with me, feeling the weight of each purchase as a crisp bill shattered into a clinking pocket of change. And then, in the midst of the summer, two letters arrived in the mail. The first was a congratulatory letter enclosed with my college diploma. The second was a congratulatory letter enclosed with a 6-month notice from my student loan provider—a postal sucker punch.
Of course, I had been waiting for my diploma to arrive, and thanks to CARE, I expected the loan reminder, too. In fact, from my desk at CARE, I had scheduled automatic monthly payments on my loans even before college graduation. CARE helped me be proactive and gave me a good long-term idea of how I could make my reasonable student debt disappear, a plan I sorely needed. In September, I left the US for Madagascar, and I began a 27-month stint without pay as a Peace Corps Volunteer teaching English.
Financial Literacy is Global
Today, I have been living and working in Madagascar for over a year and have become accustomed to the routines of my daily life. As it turns out, financial literacy has been an incredible tool in both my personal and professional life here in the Indian Ocean. I have been able to apply some of CARE’s ideas and specific tools to encourage changes in others while regulating my own finances. Many financial literacy tools and knowledge proved to be even more universal than I previously thought, and I have been able to learn more about financial literacy in this new context of Madagascar.
About the Author
Nic is an Education Peace Corps Volunteer. He teaches English to middle school and high school students in the countryside of Eastern Madagascar. Prior to joining Peace Corps, Nic studied International Affairs and Development at George Washington University in Washington DC, where he had the opportunity to intern with CARE for a semester.
Editor’s Note: This post is the first part in a series of 3 articles from Nic on his Journey with CARE and how he applied the lessons learned from his internship to his time in the Peace Corps.