Ke kontan – “Some time, some patience and a smile”

Giving children anti-parasite medications in Ecuador

Carol Peddie, our Associate Dean of Library and Information Services and Director of Enterprise Services, was recently featured in a cover article in the Addison Independent about her volunteer work in many corners of the world. If you have not read it already, check it out here. Carol was kind enough to answer a few more of our questions about her volunteer work that we’re excited to share with you here. (Curious about our title? Read on to learn more.)

You’ve met a lot of people during these experiences. Can you tell us about one individual that you’ve met while volunteering in other countries whose story really sticks with you?

There are so many stories and people that stick with me but yes. The very first time I went to Haiti we treated a small boy who had been trapped for hours in the rubble and watched his brother die before him. He was not eating well but had been brought in because he was not himself.  He had been a happy, outgoing, loud child and he wasn’t talking, eating, etc. He had not smiled or laughed since the day his brother had died.

One of the doctors took special notice and after spending some time with him got him to talk and smile. The look on his mother’s face when she saw her son smile was priceless. I was lucky enough to be in with the doctor and the child at the time this occurred. We followed up on this particular case, got the boy into a newly formed  art therapy class for children with PTSD and were able to watch his progress on one of our return trips. I understand he is still doing well!  This is just one of the many stories that has made an impact on my life. So many simple things make a difference.  A smile, that’s all it took. Some time, some patience and a smile.

Mixing mud by foot in the village of Sal-Dimi (Mali)

Your work at Middlebury seems to be very different from the role that you play when you volunteer. Do you see any similarities between the two? If so – what are they?

(Laughing) I often travel to places that depend on the sun and the moon for light & electricity, and the only running water is in the spring that feeds the well, so it is far from the conveniences and the technology dependent world in which we live.  One of the reasons I do this is to ‘get away’ from my everyday life and expand my own boundaries so it really is very different. It is my ‘vacation’ away from work and it has quickly become a passion!

After reading this article I’m sure many people wonder how they might be able to help your efforts. Is there a place that they can go to learn more about your work and how they can help?

As you know I’m happy to share my experiences, so you can always contact me or I’m currently working with The Tandana Foundation ( and there are many ways to help!

Last question – In the article you mentioned that you took a crash course in another language that enabled you to become a translator. Do you remember it? And if so – can you share a phrase with us?

Yes,  Haitian Kreyol has some phrases that stay with you! I learned a lot of medical terminology and questions relating to health care but the things that most come to mind are these:

  • Kè kontan = happy heart
  • Se coupe dwèt (used to compliment a meal but literally means ‘worth cutting a finger for’)
  • Bef ki bef pran kanpo – we could use this here! (Even cows take a break)

Thank you Carol for taking the time to share your experience with the Middlebury Community!

Would you like to shine the spotlight on one of your Middlebury Colleagues? Tell us about it and we’ll work with you to write an article for MiddPoints. You can start here.