Across oceans, cultures, and time, friendship formed during Peace Corps service endures

Like most Peace Corps volunteers, Kera Halvorson knew little about the local culture and couldn’t speak the language when she began her service as a maternal and family health volunteer in Turkmenistan in 2010. Soon, though, she was immersed in a new culture and formed close bonds with people in her community. Gujemal Mammentmyradova was a friend to Kera who eventually became like family. During Kera’s two years in Turkmenistan, the two watched movies and ate sunflower seeds. Kera helped Gujemal translate English songs, and Gujemal invited Kera to weddings and updated her wardrobe to include local attire.

After Kera completed her service and returned home, the two kept in touch, and Gujemal told Kera about her lifelong dream of studying in the U.S. With Kera’s guidance, Gujemal earned a scholarship and in the fall of 2015 began studying elementary education at South Dakota State University.

Before starting school she stopped in Chicago to see Kera, her first trip ever to the U.S. In April, Kera visited Gujemal on the campus of SDSU. She was able to meet Gujemal’s host family and see where she lives. Gujemal will soon begin her sophomore year at SDSU and hopes to stay in the U.S. to receive a master’s degree and potentially a doctorate before returning to Turkmenistan to work in education. Throughout their friendship, Kera and Gujemal have had to navigate cultural differences and help each other in very dedicated ways. However, it’s only brought them closer. In the video above, the two talk about how they met, their reunion, and why their friendship is so important to each of them. Continue reading

Peace Corps and Maharishi University of Management Announce New Master’s International Program

[FAIRFIELD, Iowa] – The Peace Corps and Maharishi University of Management are launching a new graduate school partnership through the Master’s International program that will offer students the opportunity to integrate Peace Corps service abroad with a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Living.

The Master’s in Sustainable Living degree enables graduates to implement community-wide systems and practices for deep sustainability. During their first year, students will spend half of their time in the classroom and the other half applying what they’ve learned on real-world sustainability projects in Fairfield. Then, students will begin 27 months of Peace Corps service and will work on academic projects as part of their graduate degree. When they return to the U.S., they will complete their degree requirements by writing up their experience from a sustainable living perspective.

“We are delighted to partner with Maharishi University of Management to give students the opportunity to incorporate Peace Corps service into their graduate studies,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Peace Corps volunteers develop cross-cultural, leadership, and language skills during their service that – in combination with a graduate degree – make them extremely competitive candidates in today’s global job market.”

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Peace Corps and Iowa State University Announce New Peace Corps Prep Program

Ames, IA, – The Peace Corps and Iowa State University today announced a new partnership that will offer students a unique combination of undergraduate coursework and community service that prepares them for a career in international development.

Iowa State students will be able to apply to the new Peace Corps Prep program for enrollment beginning fall 2015.

“Students today have a passion for service and are interested in not just imagining a better world, but rolling up their sleeves and doing something about it,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Through the Peace Corps Prep program, Iowa State University students can develop skills specifically targeted to Peace Corps service and careers in the international development and service communities.” Continue reading

Beloit grad begins Peace Corps service in Cambodia

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Kendra Wagner, 24, of Monroe, Wis., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Cambodia July 24 to begin training as a community health education volunteer. Wagner will live and work at the community level as an educator, community mobilizer and trainer in a rural health center. She will assist with chronic disease care, maternal and child care, birth spacing advice, immunization, and emergency first aid.

“I decided to join the Peace Corps because I wanted the opportunity to put my public health education to work, gain some international experience, learn another language and culture, and to truly integrate into another culture and country,” Wagner said. Continue reading

St. Olaf grad completes Peace Corps service in Senegal

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After two years of making a difference on sustainable health projects in Senegal, Kathleen Curtis, of Morris, Minn., has completed her Peace Corps service and returned to the U.S.

Curtis, 25, returned in April after serving as a preventative health volunteer in the West African nation since 2013, focusing on combating child malnutrition through education and screenings. With two other volunteers, she toured four villages on a campaign to promote handwashing and prevent the spread of Ebola. Additionally, she taught English at an elementary school, wrote a grant to build a new classroom for the school, helped organize a marathon to raise money for the scholarships and worked on a leadership camp for girls and their fathers. Continue reading

Peace Corps and Walsh University Announce New Peace Corps Prep Program

The Peace Corps and Walsh University are proud to announce a new partnership that will offer students a unique combination of undergraduate coursework and community service that prepares them for a career in international development through Peace Corps’ Preparatory Program.

Walsh University students will be able to apply to the new Peace Corps Prep program for enrollment beginning in the spring of 2016.

“Students today have a passion for service and are interested in not just imagining a better world, but rolling up their sleeves and doing something about it,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Through the Peace Corps Prep program, Walsh University students can develop skills specifically targeted to Peace Corps service and careers in the international development and service communities.” Continue reading

Kentucky native hopes to become effective leader as Peace Corps volunteer in Cambodia

Christy Eubank with her parents, Johnny and Sherree Eubank.

Christy Eubank with her parents, Johnny and Sherree Eubank.

Christy Eubank, 25, of Gamaliel, Ky., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Cambodia July 24 to begin training as an English teacher and teacher trainer volunteer.  Eubank will live and work at the community level co-teaching basic and intermediate English. She will also lead extracurricular activities to enhance language learning.

“Joining the Peace Corps is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time,” Eubank said. “I love to travel and I have a lot of interest in learning about other cultures.” Continue reading