In 2016, UNH was ranked 13th out of all U.S. medium-sized schools in regard to the amount of alumni that were currently serving in the Peace Corps, and a new opportunity has now arisen on campus that might improve that national standing.
Peace Corps Prep is a program offered at many universities, and now UNH is among them. With the Peace Corps being a competitive program to get into, this preparatory program gives students an edge on their applications for the two-year service journey.
The first Peace Corps Prep information session was held in Hood House on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
The Peace Corps, formed in the 1960s by President John F. Kennedy, is “a service opportunity for people who want to work in development internationally,” as described by the coordinator of the UNH Peace Corps Prep program, Megan Brabec. When deciding what to do for the Peace Corps, one must choose one of six sectors to volunteer in: agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health or youth in development.
Students who participate in the Peace Corps Prep program during their undergraduate years have to do the following: choose a sector, take three courses through UNH that relate to their chosen sector, accumulate 50 hours of experience in the related field, note foreign language skills required for chosen places around the world (the Peace Corps requires knowledge of Spanish or French if necessary, and if the volunteer chooses a country that speaks a different language, it is taught on site), fulfill intercultural competence skills with three approved courses and professional development and leadership, which includes a resume review and a leadership experience. Students who complete the Peace Corps Prep program receive a certificate to include with their application to the Peace Corps, proving that they have gained this experience and knowledge.
Brabec led the information session, and started by handing out packets about the required parts of the Peace Corps Prep program, a Peace Corps information booklet and the application to the Peace Corps Prep program. She then followed with a PowerPoint presentation, discussing the Peace Corps briefly and then delving into information about the prep program. Afterward, Brabec assisted students with questions they had about their applications to Peace Corps Prep.
Students attending the meeting said they felt compelled to apply to the Peace Corps because of desires to travel, experience new cultures and help others, among other reasons.
Junior health management and policy major, Adam Thorburn, said before the information session that he had studied abroad in Rome in the 2016 spring semester and that it “opened [his] mind to service and the global health field.”
Other students also spoke of places they are considering service in. Thorburn and freshman Adrienne Perron both expressed interest in French-speaking countries, while student Charlotte Kjellman said simply, “maybe somewhere warm.” Kathryn Walter, first-year student and Peace Corps Prep intern, said that Spanish-speaking countries were of interest to her.
While the attendance for the Tuesday meeting was fewer than 10 students, the variety of sectors that interested people was broad. The largest sector, historically, is education, but students there expressed desires to be involved with health, youth in development and community economic development as well.
There are two more Peace Corps Prep workshops and information sessions planned for Monday, Feb. 27, from 10 to 11 a.m., and Thursday, March 9 from 1 to 2 p.m. in Hood House 112. The application to Peace Corps Prep (available at www.unh.edu/uacc/community-service/application) is due by April 1, in Brabec’s office, Hood House room 6.