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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Students explore chances to help abroad

Brandi Walker

Cathy Della Penta, returned Peace Coprs volunteer who served in Niger and Senegal, points out the region where she served on a map during the ninth annual Peace Corps Fair in the Student Union Memorial Center on Friday. The Peace Corps Fair included booths for more than 50 countries where the Peace Corps is active.

The UA Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows hosted a week of events, including the Peace Corps Fair and a symposium with a panel of alumni and honored speakers, to celebrate 15 years of service last week.

“[Volunteering with the Peace Corps] is just a great way to get to live and work in another culture,” said Benjamin Kowalski, a returned Peace Corps volunteer from Ecuador and UA Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow. “It’s two years, so you really become a part of that community, rather than doing a group trip or being a tourist.”

Peace Corps Fair

The booths and tables at the Ninth Annual Peace Corps Fair were crowded with students curious about the Peace Corps experience and eager to meet returned Peace Corps volunteers on Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

“A lot of students just don’t know anything about the Peace Corps, so they come to me wanting to know what it’s all about,” said Anna Steeves-Reece, a UA Peace Corps recruiter answering students’ questions at one booth. “Others know for sure they want to apply. So, sometimes, I’ll look over their resume and give them advice on how to reformat it so it better suits the Peace Corps application or whatever experience they need.”

Steeves-Reece holds office hours five hours a week and is flexible to meet with students at their convenience.

Kowalski tabled at the Peace Corps fair and answered students’ questions about his service abroad. He worked in public health schools in Ecuador as an education volunteer from 2012-2014, teaching English and training teachers.

“The fair is a great way for us to be able to share our experiences and talk about what the Peace Corps experience is like,” Kowalski said, “so that students who might be graduating in the next couple of years can think about if it is something they might want to do in the future.”

Ramses Camacho, a pre-public health sophomore, said being away from his family for so long is a hesitation he has about becoming a Peace Corps volunteer after walking around at the Peace Corps Fair.

“I also have other commitments; right now, I’m looking into sports medicine, so to kind of steer away from that would be out of my comfort zone,” Camacho said. “It would be really hard to make that decision to go to a different country and learn something totally new, but it’s definitely an option.”

Peace Corps Symposium

The Peace Corps 15th Anniversary Symposium featured an alumni panel of Paul D. Coverdell Fellows, among other honored speakers and country directors, who shared stories and gave advice to other returned Peace Corps volunteers on Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Judy Marcouiller, a former Peace Corps recruiter and recruitment office manager, said she joined the Peace Corps because she could teach home economics at the high school level in the Peace Corps without a teaching certificate.

“I had no idea of the world and where I would go, and it didn’t matter,” Marcouiller said. “I just wanted to teach.”

Marcouiller added that at the age of 45, she realized she had been working in management and administration but had a master’s degree in education that she wasn’t using. Marcouiller then wanted to get a master’s degree in public administration.

“So, I looked around and found this program in Arizona,” she said. “I wrote to the recruitment person at the time at the Eller College of Administration, and he said, ‘Oh look; you’re a returned Peace Corps volunteer. I think we might have a program for you.’”

Marcouiller found a program that could give her in-state tuition, which was important, as she was coming from Minnesota, in addition to an assistantship.


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