Alumni Spotlight: Colin Karnes

Travel junkie. International education advocate. Currently in Manu'atele, American Samoa teaching high school. Worldteach American Samoa alumni 2014. Returned on contract. Countries visited so far: Canada, Mexico, Russian Federation, New Zealand, Western Samoa, American Samoa!

Mr. Colin Karnes attended SUNY Buffalo where he majored in Social Sciences and studied the Russian language, including a semester abroad in Moscow, Russia in 2013. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY he has spent the majority of his time after college traveling in the South Pacific and currently still teaches at his placement on the island of Ta'u, American Samoa.

Why did you pick this program?

I picked this program because I wanted to travel to somewhere that I had never heard of before, and even though American Samoa is a United States territory, it seemed very foreign to me. Worldteach is also a great organization to volunteer for and I had heard nothing but good things about it.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

I tell my friends that they should travel as much as they can for as long as they can. I believe that you never really "get" a place until you live in the community for at least a period of a month or so.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Bring lots of bug spray and a good sense of humor. And don't forget to bring your dancing shoes!

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

My favorite story to tell people is about my time leaving my island. The plane and boat had been booked solid or wasn't running for a few weeks. We were told that the boat would be coming over the weekend instead of that day. The weekend turned into a week, the week turned into two and almost 3 weeks after the original date that we had planned did the plane come to take us.

It reminded me just how remote we really were and it was the main reason that I decided to return. The hospitality that I received over those 3 weeks was so amazing that I couldn't stop myself from returning to my placement on contract!

What is the most interesting food you had in your time abroad?

It's very difficult to say. I have eaten raw fish guts, boiled octopus, raw sea-snail (yum!), palolo worms straight from the ocean, and fruit bat. Samoans eat a lot of funky stuff!