Kennett, Mo., native begins Peace Corps service in Tonga

Briscoe.Katie_tonga

Katie Briscoe, 23, of Kennett, Mo., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Tonga Aug. 31 to begin training as a primary education teacher trainer volunteer. Briscoe will live and work at the community level to help build the capacities of primary school staff to adopt participatory, student-centered practices that integrate English skills into other subjects and co-teach using these teaching methods. She will also work with parents and the community to strengthen support for literacy education and increase access to literacy development opportunities for older youth and adults.

“I have spent a lot of my time as a youth volunteering what little skills I did have through youth group mission trips led by my mother,” Briscoe. “That drive to offer up what skills I possess to help others, as well as a desire to explore more of the world, led me to apply to be a teacher through the Peace Corps.” Continue reading

Bloomington, Minn., native begins Peace Corps service in Fiji

Richardson.Denisha_Fiji

Denisha Richardson, 30, of Bloomington, Minn., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Fiji Aug. 31 to begin training as a youth development volunteer. Richardson will live and work at the community level to promote and develop healthy lifestyles and environmental awareness in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Youth and Sport. She will coordinate several skill-building activities, including co-teaching life skills classes, after school clubs and school gardens.

“I have always enjoyed helping others and serving in my community,” Richardson said. “There are two quotes that truly inspire and motivate me: ‘Think globally, act locally’ and ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ These two quotes remind me that we are all interconnected and no matter how small the contribution, it all has meaning and impact on the lives of others.” Continue reading

Iowa couple begins Peace Corps service in Fiji

Semprini_Fiji

Jason Semprini, 28, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and his wife Laura, 27, of Iowa City, Iowa, have been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Fiji Aug. 31 to begin training as a youth development volunteers. The Semprinis will live and work at the community level to promote and develop healthy lifestyles and environmental awareness in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Youth and Sport. They will coordinate several skill-building activities, including co-teaching life skills classes, after school clubs and school gardens.

“We had both dreamed of serving with the Peace Corps long before we met,” Jason Semprini said. “Part of what brought us together was our mutual desire to see the world and serve others. Along with love and support, we see commitment as our key to success while serving with the Peace Corps: committing to each other, committing to the mission, committing to the community within Fiji, and committing to peace.”  Continue reading

Springfield, Mo., couple begins Peace Corps service in Fiji

Hillgren_Fiji

Eric Hillgren, 30, his wife Katie Hillgren, 29, of Springfield, Mo., have been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Fiji Aug. 31 to begin training as a youth development volunteers. The Hillgrens will live and work at the community level to promote and develop healthy lifestyles and environmental awareness in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Youth and Sport. They will coordinate several skill-building activities, including co-teaching life skills classes, after school clubs and school gardens.

“My husband and I have been talking about the Peace Corps since college,” Katie Hillgren said. “We have always wanted the opportunity to live and work overseas and experience life in new ways.” Continue reading

Jacksonville, Ill., native begins Peace Corps service in Fiji

Bland.Brianna_FijiBland, 23, of Jacksonville, Ill., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Fiji Aug. 31 to begin training as a youth development volunteer. Bland will live and work at the community level to promote and develop healthy lifestyles and environmental awareness in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Youth and Sport. She will coordinate several skill-building activities, including co-teaching life skills classes, after school clubs and school gardens.

“I joined the Peace Corps to become culturally competent and pass on my knowledge and passion for health education to those who are less fortunate,” Bland said. Continue reading

Serving as a LGBTQ Peace Corps volunteer

Shay and Betsie

Shay and Betsie, Peace Corps volunteers in Ecuador

Shay had few expectations when she began her Peace Corps service in Ecuador but, as a lesbian, she did expect that she wouldn’t be able to be open about her sexual orientation. In actuality, she met her future wife and now helps create a healthy and safe environment for other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer volunteers.

The 27-year-old Cape Girardeau, Mo., native and graduate of Southeast Missouri State University joined the Peace Corps for the opportunity to promote peace and friendship while sharing technical skills and cultures. Shay arrived in Ecuador in May 2014 and serves as a health extension volunteer. She is also the president of SpeQtrum, a support group for Peace Corps volunteers in Ecuador who identify as LGBTQ or ally.

“Being a Peace Corps volunteer presents challenges from so many angles,” Shay said. “Personally, my identifying as a lesbian has been one of the smallest challenges during service, but I do feel that my in-country staff is particularly attentive to the needs of LGBTQ volunteers.” Continue reading

North Royalton native hopes to become effective educator in Peace Corps Colombia

Holodnak_Colombia

James Holodnak, 22, of North Royalton, Ohio, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Colombia Aug. 26 to begin training as a Teach English for Livelihoods volunteer. Holodnak will live and work at the community level to strengthen English language skills for Colombian primary school teachers and their students. Working with local teachers, Holodnak will co-plan and co-teach lessons to students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

“My ultimate goal in life is to become an effective educator, coach, and mentor to less fortunate children,” Holodnak. “Peace Corps is a phenomenal organization that provides me a rare platform to work towards this goal in a beautiful country, Colombia. I hope to become fluent in Spanish, learn about Colombia’s culture and, most of all, gain knowledge and experience of teaching English as a second language.” Continue reading