The Peace Corps recognized Allegheny College in its 2013 Top Colleges list acknowledging colleges and universities producing the largest number of volunteers. In the small colleges and universities category, reserved for schools with less than 5,000 undergraduates, Allegheny earned 23rd place.
Allegheny is tied with Dartmouth College, Willamette University, Bucknell University and Colby College, who all sent 14 graduates overseas in 2012. Volunteers are sent to a variety of locations worldwide, including stations in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Central America, South America and the Pacific Islands. Seventy-six host countries are involved with the Corps, according to the organization’s website.
Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps to help developing countries and create personal relationships between Americans and other people worldwide. Since its founding in 1961, the Peace Corps has sent 210,000 volunteers to cooperating countries and 190 of them have been Allegheny alumni, according to an article released by Allegheny.
The Peace Corps site states that currently, 8,073 volunteers serve around the world. Sarah Twing,‘13, will join them in August.
Twing, an International Studies major with a focus on North Africa and the Middle East, will be working in the Dominican Republic serving the community and working on youth development for the next two years.
“They say it’s the toughest job you’ll ever love, which is great, because I like to be challenged,” Twing said.
Volunteers will work directly with developing communities, working in fields such as agriculture, environment and economic development. Because different locations require specialized assistance, volunteers are also trained to be involved with education, improving health care, increasing access to technology, working with youth and community, establishing food security and providing education on HIV and AIDS.
Twing believes her experience at Allegheny has really prepared her for her two-year service with the Peace Corps. After returning from a semester abroad in Egypt, she found the idea of living abroad for two years doing service to be very appealing.
“The opportunities that Allegheny gives you are just incredible. [….] It definitely gives students an array of opportunities to acquire leadership skills and practice them. I’m not going to go into the Peace Corps with all of the leadership skills I need. There is definitely room for me to learn, but Allegheny gave me a great foundation for leadership and I can apply those skills and get better and better. Allegheny does a wonderful job in that respect,” said Twing.
Director of Career Services Michaline Shuman served as a volunteer in the Peace Corps from 1999 to 2001 in Costa Rica, where she worked with 75 families. She spoke about her experiences to interested students on April 9.
According to the organization’s website, Peace Corps is often appealing because it offers its volunteers a number of benefits including helping to pay off student loans, free travel to and from the country where volunteers will serve, full medical coverage and almost 50 paid vacation days. After completing the program, volunteers return with cross-cultural, language and leadership training and the unique experience of working in another country.
Kevin Crooks, ‘15, is considering the Peace Corps as post-graduation option after an experience with an EL trip to Nicaragua.
“When I first came to college, I knew I wanted to go to medical school and become a pediatrician. A year at Allegheny and a trip to Nicaragua later, I decided that I had to travel and help abroad as much as I could,” Crooks said.
Crooks attended the talk and was interested to learn more about Shuman’s experiences with the Peace Corps.