Celebrating and sharing history and cultures – Peace Corps volunteer finds passion through service in Malawi

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When Nyassa Kollie’s father thinks about his childhood and the hurdles he overcame in pursuit of his education, he replays the voices of encouragement telling him that he could do anything, even earn a doctorate in chemistry. Similarly, when Kollie’s mother faced obstacles growing up, it was the voices of hope that prevailed and lifted her up, reminding her that her education mattered.

Those voices her parents heard belonged to Peace Corps volunteers.

Kollie, now a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi, wouldn’t fully grasp the motivation that fueled her father’s passion for education, or of the love her mother had for the volunteers who defined her youth until years later. Continue reading “Celebrating and sharing history and cultures – Peace Corps volunteer finds passion through service in Malawi”

Peace Corps recruiter’s sixth year motivating students

Meredith Mahy Gall has been the Peace Corps recruiter at the University of Iowa for six years now. She continues to employ her passion for service to motivate students to consider joining upon graduation.
Meredith Mahy Gall has been the Peace Corps recruiter at the University of Iowa for six years now. She continues to employ her passion for service to motivate students to consider the Peace Corps upon graduation.

Six years later and Meredith Mahy Gall is still motivating and inspiring University of Iowa students to join the Peace Corps and make a difference in communities abroad. Gall was a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana, so she knows the fears, anticipations and questions that may be lurking in students’ minds, especially seniors seeking post-graduation opportunities.

As the on-campus Peace Corps recruiter, Gall strives to answer those questions and guide interested students through the highly competitive Peace Corps application process, giving them tips and advice to make their application stand out among the rest. Continue reading “Peace Corps recruiter’s sixth year motivating students”

Iowa couple begins Peace Corps service in Fiji

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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 “Iowa couple begins Peace Corps service in Fiji”

Former volunteer finds similar camaraderie in Iowa bike ride as in Peace Corps

Liz Wildenberg de Hernandez was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala from 1999-2000. She has rode in RAGBRAI four times and the 2015 event will be her fifth.
Liz Wildenberg de Hernandez was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala from 1999-2000. She has rode in RAGBRAI four times and the 2015 event will be her fifth.

To Liz Wildenberg de Hernandez, there are foundational similarities between Peace Corps and the Des Moines Register’s Great Annual Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, better known as RAGBRAI. Both unite Americans from across the nation, with different backgrounds and origins, for ideas bigger than them. Both require generosity and help from others in order to be successful. And, those that start out on a two-year service in a developing nation or a 481.5 mile ride may initially be strangers but will surely end up as friends.

“When you are doing something out of the norm and challenging it is natural to make some lifelong friends,” Liz said.

Liz, who lives in West Branch, Iowa, is a returned Peace Corps volunteer who now inspires and supports future volunteers through her position at the University of Iowa. She’s also a veteran of RAGBRAI, and this year she will be riding with Peace Corps staff and returned volunteers in the July 19-25 event. Continue reading “Former volunteer finds similar camaraderie in Iowa bike ride as in Peace Corps”

For Oak Park native, Peace Corps combines travel with opportunity to teach

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Nicky Fish, 23, of Oak Park, Ill., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Indonesia March 14 to begin training as a secondary English education volunteer. Fish will make a difference teaching basic to intermediate English and providing enrichment learning opportunities through extracurricular and non-formal community activities.

“I’ve been blessed with an education and endless resources and I’m really hoping to give back to those who haven’t had the chances I have,” Fish said. “Peace Corps is honestly the perfect combination for what I want in my life right now – a chance to travel and live abroad while also getting to work on my teaching skills and hopefully do some good.” Continue reading “For Oak Park native, Peace Corps combines travel with opportunity to teach”

Iowa native departs for Peace Corps Jamaica

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Alec Bramel, 22, of Holy Cross, Iowa, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Jamaica March 9 to begin training as an agriculture extension volunteer. Bramel will make a difference working with his community to identify resources and agriculture projects that can be developed and implemented to generate income. He will also facilitate training in farm management and work with schools to enhance and expand environmental education.

“I joined the Peace Corps because of the sense of adventure and the opportunity to use my education to serve others where it may be needed most,” Bramel said. Continue reading “Iowa native departs for Peace Corps Jamaica”

Minnesota native joins Peace Corps for more profound way to travel

Kendra Meltzer, right, with her twin sister Carly
Kendra Meltzer, right, with her twin sister Carly

Kendra Meltzer, 22, of Edina, Minn., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Nicaragua March 3 to begin training as a health extension volunteer. Meltzer will live and work at the community level training community members, at-risk populations and service providers on healthy behaviors to reduce unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases and improve maternal and infant health.

“I don’t view myself traveling as a tourist and going to museums to learn the history and culture,” Meltzer said. “I have always wanted to live and breathe the culture of a new place, something that the Peace Corps will allow me to do while gaining valuable experience and helping people and communities along the way.”

Continue reading “Minnesota native joins Peace Corps for more profound way to travel”