Peace Corps offers international opportunities
Graduating from university can be a very stressful time in a person’s life, especially when the future is unclear.
Peace Corps Regional Recruiter Kera Halvorson visited Grand Valley State University’s Allendale and Downtown campuses on Feb. 20 and 21 to inform students of the opportunities that could await them after graduation.
“All Peace Corps volunteers get to do exciting, challenging international development projects,” Halvorson said. “Every volunteer’s work, living, and cultural experiences differ across our countries around the world and due to the rich diversity of our world experiences can be vastly different even in the same country.”
There are six sectors within the organization that people can serve in: education, health, environment, business, agriculture and youth and community development.
Halvorson was a health volunteer and got to conduct health-focused youth camps, public health campaigns, best practices conferences for doctors and nurses and pregnancy classes.
All volunteers are also encouraged to pursue secondary projects as well, Halvorson said. Hers included theater club with English speaking children, English club, music appreciation and translation, and a cooking class.
“I recommend the experience because it will not only change your perspective on life and give you valuable marketable skills such as grant writing, project management experience, and leadership skills you can use in the work force when you return,” Halvorson said. “It also allows you to create sustainable projects and create a difference in our world.”
Halvorson applied for the Peace Corps a few months after she graduated from college because she was overwhelmed by with her job and desired adventure and challenge, she said.
“Peace Corps has a great reputation both at home and abroad,” Halvorson said. “(It) also has the structures in place such as a safety and security officer in each country that made me feel safe dedicating my life to them for two years. Plus it has great financial benefits.”
The application process takes nine to 12 months and the experience itself is a 27-month commitment. The period starts off with three months of training, followed by two full years of service.
Peace Corps is looking for candidates that are flexible to do a variety of different work.
“I was flexible when I got to my permanent site I would be working in for two years,” Halvorson said. “I was invited to serve as a maternal health volunteer with the Peace Corps but I was available to anyone I could help.”
Halvorson did a lot of health-focused youth camps and public health campaigns in Turkmenistan and once she was more accustomed to the language she started teaching English classes in the hospital and school.
“Peace Corps accepts all majors and it’s never too early or too late to begin thinking about Peace Corps,” Halvorson said.
For more information about the Peace Corps, visit www.peacecorps.gov.