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YARMOUTH — Becky Schaffer, 23, of Yarmouth, died during a hiking accident in Pohnpei, Micronesia on Sunday, Aug. 6.
Becky was born on June 17, 1988 in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Yarmouth. She attended Yarmouth High School where she was the only female member of the boy’s hockey team and a key member of the girl’s team. She was a fearless athlete who was undaunted by injuries.
Her family said she was a boisterous and spunky young woman who enjoyed surfing, working as a deckhand in Casco Bay, acting and traveling.
She attended McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she majored in history and studied abroad in England, India and Kenya. She was committed to helping those in need, tutored African refugees in Portland, spoke Swahili and taught English in Kenya.
She volunteered at the Sanchat Restart Center, an orphanage in Gilgil, Kenya, for two months in 2010. Her family said she loved the children and staff in Kenya and hoped to return.
She arrived in Micronesia in July for a three week training session with WorldTeach before she started a year-long teaching program for high school students on the island. She wrote in her WorldTeach application that she wanted to challenge herself by working as far away as possible, geographically and culturally, from anything familiar.
“I want to be surrounded by a culture and environment I have never experienced but have reason to expect to love because of its people’s warmth and the land’s natural beauty,” she wrote.
Schaffer had plans to join the Peace Corps following her year teaching in Micronesia, and to pursue graduate programs in African Studies.
Her father, Bill Schaffer, a former Yarmouth Town Councilor, said losing his daughter has been extremely difficult. He said he is fortunate to have the support of his family and community.
“I’m so glad I live in Yarmouth because the outpouring has been unbelievable,” he said. “I can’t walk down the street without getting a hug or word of support from people.”
Becky Schaffer is survived by her parents, Bill Schaffer and Janice Cooper, her brother Tim, sister Alexandra, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends, and her dog Lucy.
A memorial service will be scheduled in the coming weeks.
As an expression of sympathy and in support of Becky’s work, memorial contributions may be made to Lift Up Africa to support orphaned and abandoned children in Gilgil, Kenya. Contributions can be sent to Beth Costello, 89 Sisquisic Trail, Yarmouth, Maine 04096.