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”

University of Illinois earns spot on Peace Corps’ annual Top Schools list

Hillary Seely •Served in The Gambia as an agriculture and environmental volunteer from 2011-2013.
Hilary Antosh served in The Gambia as an agriculture and environmental volunteer from 2011-2013. She graduated from Illinois in 2007.

CHICAGO – For the 16th consecutive year, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has earned a spot on Peace Corps’ Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list, the agency announced today. Currently, 35 Illinois alumni are serving as Peace Corps volunteers, putting the university at No. 16 on the 2016 list, up four spots from last year.

The University of Illinois is the No. 7 all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers, with 2,026 graduates having served since the agency was created in 1961.

“The Peace Corps is a unique opportunity for college graduates to put their education into practice and become agents of change in communities around the world,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Today’s graduates understand the importance of intercultural understanding and are raising their hands in record numbers to take on the challenge of international service.” Continue reading “University of Illinois earns spot on Peace Corps’ annual Top Schools list”

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”

Peace Corps Holidays: Cameroon

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Because Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment, it allows volunteers to celebrate the holiday season in their host countries and participate in new traditions and customs, while also sharing their own. From now until January, we will highlight stories from Peace Corps volunteers who share their experiences spending the holidays overseas.

The year 2015 marked a year full of many things, but for Peace Corps volunteer Colin Korst, 2015 was a year of working in the rural communities in Cameroon to educate youth and families about malaria prevention – and 2016 will be no different. Korst, a Wheaton, Ill., native, is serving as an agribusiness volunteer and will be meeting his sister and mother in South Africa this holiday, after being separated for nearly 15 months.

“Last year I spent the holidays in my village. They celebrate Christmas and New Year’s by having massive feasts and moving from house to house eating along the way,” said Korst. “I ate a lot… Especially chicken, that is the main dish. This year will be different since I won’t be in my village which is a bit sad, but I’m very excited to see my family.

Peace Corps volunteers like to celebrate Thanksgiving together. Last year we had a great potluck dinner with a banana cream pie that almost had me in tears, and we talked a lot about football.”

Colin Korst (right) has been serving as an agribusiness volunteer in Cameroon. This holiday season, he will meet his mother and sister in Africa.
Colin Korst (right) has been serving as an agribusiness volunteer in Cameroon. This holiday season, he will meet his mother and sister in Africa.

Continue reading “Peace Corps Holidays: Cameroon”

Kentucky native’s lasting ties to Peace Corps Guinea

Guinean family in Lex 2011
Rachel Savane served in Guinea from 1990-92 as a community development and public health volunteer.

Returned Peace Corps volunteer Rachel Savane has ties that cannot be broken to Guinea. After all, it’s where she served in the Peace Corps for two years, where the inspiration for her jewelry designs came from and where she met her husband and father of her children.

“My plan as a young adult was to gain life experience throughout my 20s, and who can really see beyond that?” said Savane on her motivation to join the Peace Corps in the 1990s. Continue reading “Kentucky native’s lasting ties to Peace Corps Guinea”

University of Illinois Peace Corps recruiter brings his service to campus

Robert Sarwark (far right) was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Cape Verde from 2008-10. Now he is the on-campus recruiter at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC).
Robert Sarwark (far right) was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Cape Verde from  2008-10. Now he works as the on-campus recruiter at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

Any current or returned Peace Corps volunteer can recite the three goals of Peace Corps: to share skills with people in the developing world, to teach those people about the U.S. and to teach people back home about people of those countries.

But for the on-campus Peace Corps recruiter Rob Sarwark, the final goal – the Third Goal – isn’t just an idea forgotten at the end of a conversation, or even at the end of his service. For Sarwark, and many other returned volunteers, the Third Goal is an idea worth upholding. Continue reading “University of Illinois Peace Corps recruiter brings his service to campus”

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign earns spot on Peace Corps’ 2015 Top Schools rankings

UIUC alum and Peace Corps volunteer Dawn Bangert of Chicago makes a difference as a life skills in youth development volunteer in Botswana.
UIUC alum and Peace Corps volunteer Dawn Bangert of Chicago makes a difference as a life skills in youth development volunteer in Botswana.

CHICAGO – For the fifteenth consecutive year, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has earned a spot on the Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities across the country. With 36 graduates currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers, the university ranks at No. 20 among large schools.

Since the agency was created in 1961, 2,014 UIUC alums have served overseas, making it the No. 7 all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Continue reading “University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign earns spot on Peace Corps’ 2015 Top Schools rankings”