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Speaker encourages students to choose Peace Corps

A camp for girls in Armenia led by the Peace Corps form a heart in 2012. Photo courtesy of the Peace Corps.

Most students are on the job hunt after graduation, but some would rather volunteer overseas.

Georgina Rossel, a junior psychology major, plans to apply and hopes to be accepted.

“Going there and experiencing something you’re not so comfortable with can be beneficial,” she said. “I hope to accomplish being more integrated with other cultures, more than I already am.”

Community Action Volunteers in Education held an information session last Tuesday for Peace Corps recruiter Lorry Marvin to speak about the program and encourage students to apply.

The Peace Corps is a government program that allows volunteers to travel abroad and live among small communities, while offering assistance in specific areas.

The volunteers will be sent to one of 74 countries around the globe, Marvin said.

The program has sent over 215,000 volunteers who have served in a total of 139 countries since being established in 1961, according to the Peace Corps’ website.

The goal of the organization is to increase cross-cultural understanding and to give others an idea of what it means to be American, Marvin said. It also has the potential to change the worldview of those involved as well as those who are not.

“This is two years of international project management experience in a completely new environment, using a totally new language — one with very limited resources,” she said. “It shows the world that you are tenacious, resilient, resourceful, patient and flexible. Those characteristics transfer to every area of professional work that you could ever find yourself in.”

The Peace Corps’ main goal is to promote world peace and friendship, Marvin said. It allows workers the chance to become open-minded, while respecting the cultures and communities around them.

“It helps you just grow as an individual,” she said. “I mean, this is you testing yourself. What can you handle? How adaptable can you be? How flexible can you be? Peace Corps service is challenging but it is very rewarding.”

Each individual job has specific requirements that require certain skill sets from each of its volunteers.

Volunteers are encouraged to integrate into the culture and to become a part of the community that they’ll be living in throughout their 27-month stay abroad, Marvin said.

It is a free volunteer program that pays for all travel expenses in addition to providing volunteers with a monthly check equivalent a local teacher’s salary, she said. While abroad, medical and dental coverage is provided by dentists and doctors in the area that are on-call specifically for volunteers.

There are multiple types of positions available in the areas of education, public health, community economic development, agriculture, community development and many more, Mavin said. The positions include teaching subjects ranging from English to farming.

The application process can last up to nine months because of the intensity and commitment the Peace Corps requires, she said.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and a United States citizen. A bachelor’s degree is encouraged. Knowing a second language is beneficial but not required, due to the three months of job, language and culture training prior to departure.

It is a competitive program — one in four applicants are accepted.

In addition to the benefits that volunteers receive throughout their service, they also receive benefits when they’re out, Marvin said. These include transition funds, job placement support, federal employment advantages and an exceptional graduate school resume.

The experience alone shapes its workers, Marvin said.

“It changes your life and it changes how you relate to other people, how you understand the world,” she said.

Dominique Diaz can be reached at [email protected] or @dominiqueldiaz on Twitter.

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Dominique Diaz
Dominique Diaz, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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