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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    From Corps to class

    Peace Corp members James Cramer, far right, and Rebecca Silverstein examine their proclamation for Peace Corp Week, which was presented to eight Peace Corps members yesterday afternoon at the Tucson City Council meeting.
    Peace Corp members James Cramer, far right, and Rebecca Silverstein examine their proclamation for Peace Corp Week, which was presented to eight Peace Corps members yesterday afternoon at the Tucson City Council meeting.

    The UA is home to a fellowship program that allows returned Peace Corps volunteers to earn graduate degrees while working at internships that benefit Southern Arizona.

    “”The fellows live the ideal of John Kennedy, who said, ‘Ask not what your county can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,’ “” said Georgia Ehlers, director of fellowship, internship and community engagement at the Graduate College.

    Gov. Janet Napolitano and the Tucson City Council have declared the span of Feb. 25 to March 3 Peace Corps Week.

    Members of the UA’s branch of Peace Corps Fellows/USA, the nation’s second largest, are marking the week by speaking at local schools and holding a fair today in the Student Union Memorial Center.

    UA fellows have served in 75 countries from Paraguay to China, and can obtain degrees in 19 programs in Tucson.

    James Cramer and Rebecca Silverstein met while serving in the Peace Corps in Chad and are now engaged.

    Both had to be evacuated from Chad because of political violence. Now they are working on master’s degrees as fellows.

    They plan to return to the Corps after graduation.

    “”We both wanted to work in the community and overseas,”” said Cramer, who is seeking a degree in teaching and teaching education. “”The university and the program are accommodating and help us a lot.””

    Both work for the Somali Bantu Association of Tucson, which helps 500 Somali Bantus who were displaced by civil war.

    “”I wanted to work with refugees because of our experience in Chad,”” said Silverstein, a language, reading and culture graduate student. “”I wanted to help because I know how difficult it can be to be a refugee.””

    Fellows receive tuition assistance while studying at the UA. Some fellows also serve and receive aid from AmeriCorps, a domestic service-learning offshoot of the Peace Corps that puts volunteers in American communities.

    Mary Hollingsworth served in the Republic of Moldova. She is now a third-year law student at the UA.

    Hollingsworth gained a passion for helping Africans while in the Peace Corps and now works for a United Nations agency that is an advocate for indigenous people in Africa.

    “”If I didn’t do work with the Peace Corps, I wouldn’t be an effective advocate today,”” she said.

    Peace Corps Fellows/USA members have served the global community and given 80,000 hours to Southern Arizona, Ehlers said.

    “”Fellows have the experience and they want to take it further,”” Ehlers said. “”We think the Peace Corps and the UA are a great match,”” she said.

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