Carl Muhlhausen joins the Peace Corps — again

Carl Muhlhausen joins the Peace Corps — again
Carl Muhlhausen has a PhD in chemical physics and was a scuba instructor for 10 years.

When Carl Muhlhausen ’71, MA ’75, received an offer to serve in the Peace Corps, he was surprised. 

“I said, ‘Uganda? I would be thrilled,’” says Muhlhausen, of Brick, N.J.

This isn’t Muhlhausen’s first stint in the Peace Corps, nor his first time in Uganda. He served there just after his graduation from Binghamton University in 1971.

Now a 64-year-old retiree, he says Binghamton helped him develop a strong work ethic that has stayed with him during his entire career. 

“Faculty members encourage you to do the best you can,” he says. “I took that away, and I think it’s one of the best things about the school.”

After graduating, both he and his wife, Linda — also a Binghamton graduate — applied to the Peace Corps.

“My wife and I felt we would like to do something useful with our education to try and help someone else.” 

They were both accepted, and Carl taught chemistry and physics to secondary school students in Uganda. Although he was in the Peace Corp to share knowledge with others, he learned a great deal about himself.

“The experience gives you a different slant on American culture,” he says. “So much of the world does with far less than Americans have, and they still live a happy life.”

Muhlhausen’s tour was cut short when political unrest in Uganda forced the Peace Corps to evacuate all volunteers. After returning to the United States, he received his doctorate in chemical physics from Harvard University and went on to work in systems engineering for AT&T until 2003. He was then a scuba diving instructor for 10 years.

Though the thought of returning to Uganda had always been in the back of his mind, Muhlhausen knew it wasn’t guaranteed. After getting through the 18-month application process, he was asked to return to the site of his past service.

This time in Uganda, Muhlhausen will be a primary-school education trainer, teaching older students who are going to become instructors.

“Part of the reason I wanted to go back is that I wasn’t there the full two years,” he says. “I always felt I didn’t quite finish the job. It’s not like you’re just saving the world. You get an awful lot back.”