Peace Corps Prep program gives students opportunity to start early

Rebeca Piccardo/News Director
With a semester left to graduate, Shirley Silva went to the Career Services office for advice on her future.
“I’m about to graduate and I don’t know what’s the next step,” said the senior religious studies major.
Career Services pointed her towards the new Peace Corps Prep program at the University that just launched this fall. Students who enroll in the program can graduate with Peace Corps recognition which helps their application process to serve as a volunteer abroad.
“All I ever wanted to do with my life is travel, meet new people from other cultures,” said Silva. “The whole program is very attractive to me and I’ve looked into it. It seems like something that I should do.”
The FIU Peace Corps Prep program, managed under the Office of Global Learning Initiatives, is the first of its kind in Florida and 15th in the nation, according to South Florida recruiter Steve Hunsicker.
Students that enroll in the program must take four language courses, four global learning courses and do an 80-hour community service project by the time they graduate.
Eric Feldman, coordinator at the global learning office, said that it is hard to define what counts as community service, since this is a new program.
“If they’ve done something substantial that didn’t take up 80 hours, maybe they can do another project as a supplement,” he said.
The University has a long history with the Peace Corps, counting 200 alumni that have served and 11 currently serving.
About 70 students enrolled into the program this semester, some which are undecided about they want to do with the Peace Corps, but think the program is worth completing.
Take Abby Cheeseman, for example. As a freshman international relations major, she isn’t sure if she’ll end up joining the Peace Corps, but thought it would be good to do the program just in case.
“I’m looking forward to learning a language, maybe Spanish or Portuguese,” she said.
Some students say that Peace Corps experience can help with different endeavors.
Marquele Brown, a junior public relations major, transferred to the University this year. While moving into the dorms, she found out about the program from her resident assistant and signed up immediately.
Brown thinks that joining the Peace Corps after graduation will give her the tools she needs to meet her ultimate goal—to start her own non-profit organization.
“When I found out about the program, I knew I made the right decision coming to this school,” she said.
The majority of Peace Corps volunteers help in education, health, the environment, community economic development, youth in development and agriculture abroad.
The majority of volunteers serve in Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe or Central Asia.
To formally launch the program, the Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet will visit the Modesto A. Maidique Campus for a ceremony with Provost Kenneth Furton from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10.
Hessler-Radelet, who served in Western Samoa from 1981 to 1983, will give a lecture of the role of the environment in global development.

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