Peace Corps Volunteer educates Indonesia community about race and diversity


Vanika Spencer was the first African-American that many of her Indonesian community members had ever encountered. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, her skin tone gave her heightened attention; it was brought up in everyday life, while on the bus and when meeting new people for the first time.

But Spencer overcame the obstacles of serving as a minority in Indonesia by challenging herself and her community in conversations about race and the racial hierarchy enforced in society.

“Peace Corps Indonesia taught me how to be more patient when it comes to discussions about race,” Spencer said. “In America, most people know of African-American history and no one really questions who you are and how you got there. But for most people in Indonesia, I was the first African-American (or even dark-skinned person) they had met.” Continue reading “Peace Corps Volunteer educates Indonesia community about race and diversity”

Retired Missouri native joins Peace Corps to expand her world


Linda Stewart, 66, of Florissant, Mo., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Ethiopia June 29 to begin training as an English language specialist volunteer. Stewart will live and work at the community level to improve students’ English through classroom instruction, computer lab work and clubs, as well as foster professional development for English teachers. She will also work with teachers and student teachers to strengthen ties between schools and colleges where teachers are being educated.

Stewart received her bachelor’s in English in 1988 from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and then her master’s in communications in 2000 from Lindenwood University. Previously, she worked for the University of Missouri-St. Louis as a coordinator for alumni relations, Urban Strategies as director of communications and training, and St. Louis Community College as interim manager of continuing education. She retired in 2011 but teaches part-time at St. Louis Community College.

“I spent most of my working life in jobs that required extensive travel, primarily in the U.S. and sometimes in Europe and Canada,” she said. “Though I love my part-time retirement job as college faculty, I needed to expand my world. The Peace Corps gives me an opportunity to live another culture and see the world from another perspective.”   Continue reading “Retired Missouri native joins Peace Corps to expand her world”

St. Louis couple’s love for art, English fuels projects in Peace Corps Rwanda

Doug's Art Club
Doug’s Art Club

Doug and Kirsten Weaver, of St. Louis, are currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers in Rwanda and make a difference teaching English as a foreign language. Kirsten earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and English from the University of Missouri –Columbia in 2010 and then graduated from the University of Missouri –St. Louis with a master’s degree in social work in 2013. Doug has a bachelor’s in painting from Columbia College and masters in painting and drawing from Fontbonne University, graduating in 2011 and 2013. They arrived in Rwanda in 2013 and will end their service later this year. Below Doug describes how they use their skills to help and enrich others in Rwanda.

It was initially Kirsten’s idea to join the Peace Corps, but we decided together that after we finished school and before we had jobs or children we wanted to dedicate our time to a service where our skills could be best utilized to meet the greatest need. When Peace Corps gave us our assignment, we were thrilled to have been placed in Africa. We knew little about Rwanda outside of the 1994 genocide, but we couldn’t wait to move there. Continue reading “St. Louis couple’s love for art, English fuels projects in Peace Corps Rwanda”

Meet Your Peace Corps Recruiter: Joe Zucchini


Name: Joe Zucchini
Country of Service: Micronesia, 1990-92; Zambia 1997-99
Assignment: Education; Water/Sanitation
Recruitment Territory: St. Louis, Mo. Continue reading “Meet Your Peace Corps Recruiter: Joe Zucchini”

Liberty, Mo., native ready to teach, be taught in Peace Corps

Bollinger_Tonga_9.3.2014Bailey Bollinger, 22, of Liberty, Mo., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Tonga Sept. 5 to begin training as a primary education volunteer. Bollinger will live and work at the community level to make a difference providing formal and informal training and support to elementary school teachers and occasionally teaching classes.

“During my sophomore year of college, I attended a service learning conference and was able to connect with a Peace Corps recruiter. She told me all about her time in the Peace Corps and the great experiences she had,” Bollinger said. “Ever since that April day, my eyes have been set on being a Peace Corps volunteer. I have a great desire to help people, to spread love, educate children and make the world a better place.” Continue reading “Liberty, Mo., native ready to teach, be taught in Peace Corps”

Peace Corps service in Honduras put Mizzou campus recruiter on a new path

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Tim Wall, in Honduras

University of Missouri-Columbia students planning for the future should take advantage of a unique resource on campus this year: university-dedicated Peace Corps representative Tim Wall. From his office in the MU Career Center (201 Student Success Center, Room 3), Wall is available to share his experience and accomplishments living and working abroad in a new culture, while helping students pursue their own path toward making a difference for others and themselves through Peace Corps service after graduation.

Wall is uniquely qualified to discuss the personal and professional benefits of Peace Corps service. For two years, he was culturally immersed in his local community in Honduras and worked as a protected areas management volunteer, helping an NGO and the mayor’s office in his local community to design a landfill and garbage collection system. He also taught classes on potato cultivation to local farmers and environmental education to more than 100 children. Continue reading “Peace Corps service in Honduras put Mizzou campus recruiter on a new path”

St. Louis resident begins Peace Corps Response assignment in Ukraine


Jeannette Sanchez, 40, of St. Louis has been accepted into Peace Corps Response, a program within Peace Corps that matches qualified professionals with short-term, high-impact assignments around the world. Sanchez will depart for Ukraine Oct. 29 to begin training as an advocacy and education volunteer. Sanchez will make a difference working with a non-governmental organization in her local community for nine months.

“I wanted to give back,” Sanchez said. “I have always had a passion to make this world a better place, and I can see myself doing this in the Peace Corps.” Continue reading “St. Louis resident begins Peace Corps Response assignment in Ukraine”