Peace Corps sends recruiter to campus

Craig Jones

If graduation is looming, but an available job is not, volunteer service may bridge the gap.

Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies, has invited Peace Corps recruiter Joe Zucchini to visit the campus.

“We’re always looking for more international opportunities for our students and graduates,” Stebbins said.

“Sometimes students have difficulty seeing a clear career path. They think, ‘So, I have a degree in international studies … what can I do with it?'”

Stebbins said volunteering in the Peace Corps allows persons to immerse themselves in a new culture, learn a new language and gain valuable work experience.

Zucchini said the mission of the Peace Corps is to provide citizens of developing nations with the technical expertise necessary for advancement, as well as to promote a cross-cultural understanding between the volunteers and the populations they serve.

He is careful to point out that volunteers are not “missionaries” trying to shape a culture to benefit America’s interests.

“We send people over with no agenda, except to serve humanitarian needs,” Zucchini said.

“You become part of their family and their community.

“You are one of them. It dispels a lot of the myths [about Americans].”

Zucchini said volunteers work in agriculture, education, environmental science, urban development and many other areas.

“It’s so important at this time for Americans to reach out to the rest of the world in the name of service, kindness and peace,” Zucchini said. “The Peace Corps is playing a crucial role on the world stage on many levels.”

Dr. Allen Merriam, professor of communications, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan from 1965 to 1967.

He taught English in a high school and worked part time at Radio Afghanistan.

“It’s definitely a life-changing experience,” Merriam said. “It gives you a new perspective and broadens your outlook.

“It’s a person-to-person relationship. You go to another country, learn their language and try to live according to their lifestyle.”

Zucchini said there are two Southern graduates currently serving in the Peace Corps.

Janet Beauchamp, a 1990 criminal justice graduate, is serving in Bulgaria.

Kelsi Harris, a 2001 pre-veterinary graduate, is serving in Gambia, a west-African nation smaller than Connecticut.

Persons interested in learning about the Peace Corps can meet with Zucchini from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday at the Billingsly Student Center near the food court.

There will also be an informational meeting and video presentation from 6-8 p.m. Monday in the BSC, Room 310.