An informational meeting was held by the Peace Corps on Thursday for aspiring recruits. The event was held at 6:30 p.m. in Farris Hall. The meeting was free and open to all students interested in learning more about the Peace Corps.
Corps Member April Conway welcomed students with a presentation that covered information needed to understand what the Corps does, how people can become involved and what her personal experience was like.
The Peace Corps functions in many countries and under many categories. Its main mission is to promote world peace and friendship. The goal is pursued by training men and women of other countries to utilize useful life skills, promoting a better understanding of Americans in other countries and helping cultures to underst and one other.
Conway showed a bar graph that mapped all of the work areas covered by volunteers and the percentage of members currently active in those missions. These work areas were broken down into education, health, community economic development, environment, youth in development and agriculture. The Peace Corps will place recruits in one of these sections based on the qualities and skills of that volunteer.
According to the Peace Corps’ history, the group was started when then-Sen. John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries.
Since that event in 1960, more than 210,000 volunteers that have served in a total of 139 host countries. Currently there are 8,073 volunteers and trainees.
The application process can take anywhere from 9 to 12 months. Volunteers start this process with that time frame in mind due to possible delays in departure. The Peace Corps welcomes people with previous volunteer work and an education in a language other than English. Information covered at the meeting, including how to start the application process, can be found on the Peace Corps’ website at peacecorps.gov.
Alumna Renee Smith is currently in the process of finishing up paper work for departure.
“I originally went in for a couple of selfish reasons, one is for grad school because I know it’s going to make me a really good applicant for school and jobs,” Smith said.
She said she is excited to be departing to Morocco in January, where she will assist in youth development and education.
Conway volunteered for 27 months in Niger, where she was involved in environmental education. She took many roles by educating locals about Americans, helping them to plant gardens for personal health and sellable produce and cleaning up a local school which generated enrollment growth.
After her service, she returned to the states to finish graduate school and became a campus recruiter. Conway currently works out of Dallas, Texas as a recruiter for the Arkansas and Oklahoma areas.
When asked about the benefits of the Peace Corps, Conway said, “It will be like nothing you have ever experienced and it will change your life, it certainly changed mine. If you want to do that and help people at the same time it’s the perfect experience for you.”