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.
Emily Keast, 23, of De Pere, Wis., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Ethiopia on Jan. 9 to begin training as an agriculture environment extension specialist volunteer. Keast will work with the local teachers to integrate environmental conservation concepts into the classroom and establish tree nurseries and gardens to improve the existing microclimate in her community.
Chicago, including Naperville and Joliet, again this year ranks among the top metropolitan areas for producing Peace Corps volunteers. Currently, 224 Peace Corps volunteers call Chicagoland home, making it the fourth highest-producing metro area for volunteers nationwide in 2014.
Illinois ranks fifth among the top states for Peace Corps volunteers. It’s the top state in the Midwest with 284 residents now serving overseas.
Peace Corps volunteer Jack Guen-Murray, a native of Oak Park, Ill., makes a difference as an English education volunteer in China. He teaches seven English classes at a vocational college and reaches an average of 250 students per semester. He shares his Chicago home with his Chinese community through images and shared values, such as food, family and holidays.
“I would say the greatest part about living in another country is obtaining an external perspective, a new awareness and gaining a new appreciation for your own country,” said Guen-Murray, who graduated from Lake Forest College in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies and philosophy. “You see social issues from new angles that are impossible to see from inside the U.S., and you begin to place your wants and values on new scales.”
John Edward Guen-Murray, 22, of Oak Park, Ill., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for China June 27 to begin training as an education volunteer. Guen-Murray will live and work in a community to teach English as a second language.
Guen-Murray has a deep personal connection to Peace Corps: his late father, Kevin Guen-Murray, served as an agriculture volunteer in the Philippines from 1981-83. Kevin died when John was 7 years old.
“After my father passed away I received a lot of help from our friends and community,” Guen-Murray said. “I believe I have an obligation to use my best skills to give back the aid I received. If a world community is to exist, then the future creation of an enduring peace must happen now. The Peace Corps works toward this.” Continue reading “Oak Park, Ill., resident begins Peace Corps service in China”→