Change Yourself…Change The World.

Emily Balog’s Amazing Memorial Service
November 30, 2011, 1:15 am
Filed under: Paraguay

Emily Balog, our beloved Peace Corps Volunteer, tragically passed away in a car accident on Sunday, November 27th. Tonight, after only 2 days, the Peace Corps and Emily’s training group, G-33, put on the most incredible memorial service I have ever seen. The tribute to Emily’s life totally did her justice. There were christmas lights everywhere under a giant white tent, a mural depicting Emily’s life with pictures of her in the Peace Corps, with her family and her boyfriend Santiago (who was driving the car and is currently in critical condition at the hospital). There were candles and a guest book that everyone signed to send home to her parents. Every person attending received a mango tree in honor of Emily to plant in their communities. A white dove was released into the air to signify Emily’s departure.

Our Deputy Director got up to speak, and then our Associate Peace Corps Director in the Community Economic Development Sector, who both delivered heart-wrenching speeches. A letter by the director of the Peace Corps Aaron Williams was read. Then a video played with everyone from Emily’s G-33 talking about how they first met her and how much they loved her. Finally, there was a period where guests could come up to speak about her. Stories ranged from memories that made the audience both laugh and cry. Santiago’s sister got up to speak. And finally, there was a huge spread full of Emily’s favorite foods, which were a mixture of Southern comfort and Paraguayan dishes. Meanwhile, the entire ceremony was taped for Emily’s family back home.

I have been learning a lot about death in my Peace Corps service. From my friend Becky Schaffer, who passed away in August, to now our dear Emily- it is devastating that both of them suffered tragic accidents at such a young age. Both passionate, creative, intelligent, world-changing people. It is no doubt that Emily made an impact here. I feel so fortunate to have known her, even if for such a short period of time. And I feel incredibly honored to have been here tonight to celebrate her life with such amazing people.

I am really proud of Peace Corps Paraguay for being so incredible and caring about Emily’s passing. We truly have a very special post- I think anyone would be extremely lucky to be a Peace Corps Volunteer here. In the light of this tragic event, where other Volunteers or Applicants may look at this accident and be afraid to join or to stay in the Peace Corps, I must say that I don’t feel this way. Tonight, I feel more proud to be a Peace Corps Volunteer than I have ever felt. Being surrounded in a room with 300 people who loved and cared for Emily- with staff and with Volunteers who came from all over Paraguay, some traveling 11 hours, some that didn’t even know her, yet still came to be together- it was an extremely unifying moment for me. We are all in this together, and we all care about each other, and that is something that will always stay with me.

Please keep Santiago, Emily’s boyfriend, in your thoughts. From what I’ve heard, he is an incredible person. We are all hoping that he will wake from his coma soon.

If you would like to read more about Emily’s work in the Peace Corps, click here.

If you would like to read a local Paraguayan newspaper (in Spanish) about how much Emily impacted Paraguay, click here.

We love you Emily. Here’s to you.

11 Comments so far
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Hi Brittany. I am Nino, a paraguayan-american who lives in Puerto Rico. I am so saddened to know about Emily’s work in Paraguay, through this tragic event. She must have been so special to love that faraway country so much. I thank you all (PC volunteers) for your service. I know you make a difference in the lives of some many people. Thank you again.

Comment by Nino Caceres

Thank you Nino-

Comment by brittanygoesglobal

I met Emily in 6th grade and graduated high school with her. Thank you so much for posting this. This post makes just confirms what an honor and blessing it was to know her and to be friends with such an phenomenal person. She has truly made a impact on this world. Thank you for taking the time to post this. I know it will mean the world to her parents, brother, and close friends. This allowed me to to know how much she was loved by so many in such a short time in Paraguay. Thank you for serving others and changing our world. Please continue your service for others and don’t forget those like Emily.

Comment by Jennifer Hanopole

Thanks Jennifer. I’m sorry for your loss and our hearts are with you down in Paraguay.

Comment by brittanygoesglobal

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Comment by Sanjeev

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Comment by kuqvuwwyy

Thank you so much for posting this. I grew up in the church with Emily and so many admired the work that she did. Thank you for posting such kind words to remember Emily.

Comment by Courtney

Thanks Courtney- it the least we can do for a wonderful person like Emily.

Comment by brittanygoesglobal

Thank you for letting us know of this amazing memorial service for our sweet Emily. She will be missed by so many people. My daughter Katie and Emily have been the dearest of friends since they were freshmen at UNC-Chapel Hill. She was an extraordinary young woman and my heart breaks for all of her family and friends.

Comment by Kathy Kornegay Cozort

[…] many wonderful things have been said and been written about the amazing woman that Emily was.  I think her mother said best though – as mothers […]

Pingback by A te Emily, a te. | Something like a Swiss Army knife…

Nasar October 12, 2011 I solgntry agree I put myself around good people and things are starting to happen.

Comment by Merter

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