Fresh eyes: Bruton looks to see the world and show others

By Bob Buckel | Published Wednesday, October 9, 2013

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For someone in her mid-20s, Emily Bruton has already seen a lot of the world.

Born in San Antonio, she had lived in four different cities in three states by the time she was 4. After her parents divorced, she and her mother settled in Hope, Ark., where she graduated from high school as valedictorian of her class of 2007.

Her mother and stepfather, Janet and Larry Huff, live in Decatur now – but Emily continues to set her sights a little farther out on the horizon.

Emily was offered a scholarship to study International History at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She spent the next four years studying in the School of Foreign Service, “happily balancing academic life with friends, internships, study abroad in Italy and France, and all the excitement that D.C. has to offer.”

She graduated in 2011 and joined the Peace Corps. The following June, she left for Burkina Faso – a West African country just north of Ghana.

Sacred Crocodile of Sabou

SACRED CROCODILE OF SABOU – Emily Bruton and some of her Peace Corps co-workers made a visit to a sacred crocodile in Burkina Faso recently. Submitted photo

She has been there 16 months, working with a rural women’s group, helping them produce and sell traditional textiles. She’s also president of the group’s information-communication technologies committee and manages the Peace Corps’ Burkina Faso website, producing cultural documentaries and helping create an oral history archive in local languages, French and English.

Still, she wants to see more.

Emily is a top 50 finalist in the Chief World Explorer contest sponsored by Jauntaroo, a vacation matchmaker website. The winner will be paid $100,000 and embark on an all-expenses-paid trip around the world, creating multimedia content at every stop.

Supporters can see and “like” her application videos at

“While ‘likes’ aren’t meant to determine the winner, I can’t help but believe that garnering as much support as possible will impact the judges’ decision-making,” Emily said, via email from Burkina Faso.

Closing Ceremony

CLOSING CEREMONY – Emily Bruton, whose mother and stepfather live in Decatur, is shown with her host family at a closing ceremony. Submitted photo


Emily said she started thinking about joining the Peace Corps during her freshman year of college.

“I was drawn to the idea of immersing myself in a culture that was entirely ‘other’ while serving that community in whatever capacity my skills might allow,” she said. “Georgetown’s emphasis on social justice, on being of service to one’s fellow man regardless of one’s career choice or general situation in life, certainly contributed to my decision to join upon graduation.”

While she was awaiting placement, she had an opportunity to work as a program assistant for the Meyer Foundation in Washington, D.C. There, she learned more about community economic development and financial management in the non-profit world – lessons that have proven extremely useful in her Peace Corps service.

The traditional textiles group she works with channels all its profits back to support students at the local primary school, through both individual scholarships and the purchase of classroom materials. Her multimedia projects promote positive hygiene practices and malaria prevention, and her oral history archive will help preserve the community’s stories.

The hope is to bring people together and create a more tolerant, positive and personal environment in an area of the world where problems abound and unrest is seldom far away.

“The cultural intricacies that make any given society unique continue to intrigue me,” she said. “The more I know of the world, the more interested I am in promoting similarities across cultures.

“In a world increasingly fraught with intolerance and societal tension, I believe that cultural diplomacy – making known the unfamiliar, which is so often a source of fear and subsequent unrest – is one of the most powerful means by which we might effect positive change in this world.”

The Jauntaroo “Chief World Explorer” job would be an opportunity to remind viewers of what we all have in common, she said.

The winner will visit between 30 and 50 locations in a year, creating multimedia content promoting both local culture and volunteer activities at each stop. More information is available at

To vote for Emily, follow this link:

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