Illinois State University Campus Recruiter Overcomes Adversities to Serve in the Peace Corps

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Joining the Peace Corps wasn’t the easiest decision Vanessa Soto ever made, but it was the right one.

After emigrating to the U.S. from Mexico and forging a new life for their family, Soto’s parents wanted more for their children. Passing up a salary job after graduation to travel the world did not seem like the most lucrative option to her family.

But they were wrong.

“It felt like my family had taken a step forward and I would be taking two steps back,” Soto said. “But after explaining the benefits of serving: gaining experience and the opportunity to see a part of the world that is mostly unknown to my local community – they started to accept that it was my calling.” Continue reading “Illinois State University Campus Recruiter Overcomes Adversities to Serve in the Peace Corps”

Discrimination in the Dominican Republic empowers Peace Corps volunteer

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Deandra Bass’ counterparts warned her not to dip into the hot Dominican sun: “It will make your skin too dark,” they offered. They made those comments not out of malice or discrimination, but out of love and protection.  As an African-American Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, Bass could blend in with her local community – for the most part. But at times, she danced with the color line, causing some to question if her skin was not of Dominican decent, but of Haitian. This ambiguity exposed her to an ongoing political struggle that was bigger than her.

“Some volunteers were asked to get off buses and not allowed to travel because they were dark-skinned and looked Haitian,” said Bass, who served from 2012-15. “I once was questioned for my identification to prove I was not Haitian. Luckily, I had the support of fellow volunteers who advocated on my behalf and, fortunately, I was not asked to leave the bus.” Continue reading “Discrimination in the Dominican Republic empowers Peace Corps volunteer”

Meet Your Peace Corps Recruiter: Jessica Vig

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Name:  Jessica Vig
Country of Service:  South Africa, 2007-2009
Assignment: Community Health
Recruitment Territory:  Downstate and Western Illinois

My husband, Paul, and I served as a married couple in a small, rural community in South Africa.  As we returned to the U.S., hoping to share our stories with family and friends back home, we found that photographs provided a medium to discuss our joys and challenges.

Here is a ‘snippet’ of our service—themes, learnings, and ultimately, human to human connections—through pictures. Continue reading “Meet Your Peace Corps Recruiter: Jessica Vig”

Grad Student Builds Peace Corps Culture at WIU

Jake Hamilton (center) served in Morocco from 2013-15 as an economic and community development volunteer. He is now the new on-campus recruiter at Western Illinois University.
Jake Hamilton (center) served in Morocco from 2013-15 as an economic and community development volunteer. He now works as the on-campus recruiter at Western Illinois University.

Jake Hamilton didn’t quite know what to expect when he moved across the world to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer. Yet, the calling to serve others surpassed any fears he might have had.

“The Peace Corps is a challenge that one can only be fully prepared for by doing it,” said the Pekin, Ill. native. “That is part of the fun and growing experience.” Continue reading “Grad Student Builds Peace Corps Culture at WIU”

ISU grad hopes to help people less fortunate through Peace Corps Costa Rica

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Katie Heminway, 23, of DeKalb, Ill., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Costa Rica March 9 to begin training as a community economic development volunteer. Heminway will make a difference working with and training entrepreneurs, business services providers, credit organizations, cooperatives, community groups and women and youth located in semi-rural communities. She will also teach business and leadership classes that will aim to help students and community members generate income and become more employable.

“I want to help people who are less fortunate than me and live in and experience a different culture,” Heminway said.  Continue reading “ISU grad hopes to help people less fortunate through Peace Corps Costa Rica”

Illinois State student begins Peace Corps service in Morocco

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Rachelle Wilson, 25, a current student at Illinois State University, in Normal, Ill., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Morocco Jan. 12 to begin training as an English education volunteer. Wilson will live and work at the community level to make a difference teaching English in middle and high schools while also developing and sharing instructional materials with local teachers. Additionally, she will participate in projects based in the school and community.

“Peace Corps is a wonderful way to serve as well as grow,” Wilson said. Continue reading “Illinois State student begins Peace Corps service in Morocco”

Illinois State University Ranked a Top Peace Corps’ Master’s International Graduate School

CHICAGO, May 7, 2014 – Illinois State University ranks No. 9 on Peace Corps’ list of the top Master’s International schools nationwide, released today. With 13 Master’s International students currently making a difference as Peace Corps Volunteers, Illinois State makes its second consecutive appearance on Peace Corps’ Master’s International and Paul D. Coverdell Fellows graduate school rankings. Continue reading “Illinois State University Ranked a Top Peace Corps’ Master’s International Graduate School”