University of Wisconsin-Madison reclaims No. 1 spot on the Peace Corps’ annual Top Schools rankings

27_lauralindePeace Corps volunteer and UW-Madison graduate Laura Linde hopes to work for a nongovernmental organization and promote improved environmental practices internationally after she completes her Peace Corps service this year.

The Peace Corps announced that the University of Wisconsin-Madison ranked No. 1 among large schools on the agency’s 2017 Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list. There are 87 Badgers currently volunteering worldwide.

This is the third year that the UW-Madison has ranked among the top five large universities and colleges. In 2016, UW-Madison ranked No. 2. Continue reading “University of Wisconsin-Madison reclaims No. 1 spot on the Peace Corps’ annual Top Schools rankings”

Returned Peace Corps volunteer brings Nicaraguan values home

Alison Feurerstein (center right) at her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin – Madison, with her parents and husband.

Joining the Peace Corps was a jumping-off point for Alison Feurerstein. Two service-filled years in Nicaragua propelled the Madison, Wis. native into a dynamic public health career, opened her eyes to a new culture and led her to her life partner.

But Feurerstein found more than just love within the Nicaraguan culture – Peace Corps changed her perspective on family, community and relationships. When looking back, it all started with the leap.

“My current job is building on my Peace Corps experience and giving me a more local look at public health and health disparities,” said Feurerstein, who worked in Nicaragua from 2013-15 as a health education volunteer. “Peace Corps was my launching off point towards a career in public health.” Continue reading “Returned Peace Corps volunteer brings Nicaraguan values home”

Peace Corps Holidays: Nicaragua

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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

“Wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas.” This Christmas carol resonates deeply with Peace Corps volunteer Emily Nilsen, a Thompsonville, Ill., native who is serving as a secondary education English teacher trainer  in Nicaragua. Her husband, Andrew Nilsen, is also serving as a secondary English teacher with her. Together, they embark on their second holiday season away from home, creating their own traditions along the way and sharing Nicaraguan cultures and customs with their family, who will be visiting from the U.S.

Emily Nilsen and her husband Andrew Nilsen spend this holiday season serving together in Nicaragua.
Andrew and Emily Nilsen are spending this holiday season making a difference in Nicaragua.

“Last year for the holidays, we had just arrived to site and were at the beginning of our Peace Corps service. This meant that we could not have visitors, nor visit home.  While a little homesick, we were able to observe lots of local customs and traditions here in Nicaragua.  We even decided to start one of our own – The 12 Days of Nilsen Christmas – where we re-wrote the classic song to include things we could find and explore during the holidays. Continue reading “Peace Corps Holidays: Nicaragua”

Indiana volunteer fundraises for students to attend business conference in Nicaragua

Thomas Pearson has been serving as an entrepreneurship education volunteer in Nicaragua since March of 2014. He teaches in four different schools throughout Nicaragua.
Thomas Pearson has been serving as an entrepreneurship education volunteer in Nicaragua since March of 2014. He teaches in four different schools throughout Nicaragua.

Thomas Pearson knows that his Peace Corps service in Nicaragua is much more than the two years he spends in country. To make a true lasting impact, he is leading, coaching and inspiring the people who have the power to ignite change: students.

With the help of a Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) grant, Pearson and other Nicaraguan Peace Corps volunteers are raising money to help send students in their entrepreneurial classes to a national business conference. The PCPP grants support Peace Corps volunteers’ projects throughout the world. To receive funding, a community must contribute at least 25 percent of the total project’s cost to ensure community ownership and long-term sustainability. Pearson’s goal is to raise $14,196.34 to send students to the conference on Nov. 16-18. Continue reading “Indiana volunteer fundraises for students to attend business conference in Nicaragua”

Peace Corps recruiter educates UW-Madison students about new opportunities

Michal Kloppenburg (right), the on-campus Peace Corps recruiter at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, served in Nicaragua as an agriculture/rural development volunteer from 2009-11.
Micah Kloppenburg (right), the on-campus Peace Corps recruiter at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, served in Nicaragua as an agriculture and rural development volunteer from 2009-11.

Growing up, Micah Kloppenburg always wondered who wove the life into the Botswanan baskets that hung above his family’s dinner table. He knew the baskets were remembrances from his parents’ Peace Corps service in Botswana in 1976-79, but he wanted to know more about the culture behind them. As his curiosity about human nature and the world outside of the U.S. expanded, following in his parents’ footsteps became a natural next step.

“Peace Corps challenged my perspective, my preconceptions, and my world views that I had developed as an undergraduate student and pushed them into practical use,” said the returned Peace Corps volunteer. “My Peace Corps experience positively changed and informed those ideas and reinforced my will to make a difference not only abroad, but also at home.” Continue reading “Peace Corps recruiter educates UW-Madison students about new opportunities”

Peace Corps Nicaragua volunteer finds friendship, understanding in co-teaching

Emily and Andrew Nilsen are Peace Corps volunteers in Nicaragua. Emily serves as a secondary education English teacher trainer volunteer and Andrew as a secondary English teacher.
Emily and Andrew Nilsen are Peace Corps volunteers in Nicaragua. Emily serves as a secondary education English teacher trainer volunteer and Andrew as a secondary English teacher.

Emily Nilsen, a native of Thompsonville, Ill., is currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua with her husband, Andrew Nilsen. Emily, a 2010 graduate of Graceland University, works as a secondary education English teacher trainer and Andrew as a secondary English teacher. Below, Emily she describes some of her experiences co-instructing with local teachers.To learn more about current openings in Nicaragua and other countries, visit www.peacecorps.gov/openings

“So what did you think about our last class?”

“It was O.K. I really liked the walk-to-the-line activity, but I don’t know if they completely understand possessive adjectives,” I say

“Why do you think that?” the teacher replies.

“Every time we gave an example with a possessive, they seemed to wait for one student to move, and then they followed. I think they were just mimicking him.”

“Good observation. What can we do about that? Do you want to re-teach the material, or try a different assessment to see where individual students are?”

“I would like to do a review of the material. But how?”

“Well, let’s look for some ideas here in the TEFL Manual. What do you think about this one?” Continue reading “Peace Corps Nicaragua volunteer finds friendship, understanding in co-teaching”

Improve your Spanish, develop more patience, learn life lessons in Peace Corps Nicaragua

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Meet Thomas, a Peace Corps volunteer making a difference as an entrepreneurship education volunteer in Nicaragua. Does his story inspire you? We’re currently looking for the next generation of volunteers to fill this assignment. Learn more on our website and apply by July 1 if you’re ready to serve

Peace Corps volunteer Thomas Pearson starts his day in Nicaragua with a breakfast of tortillas, beans, cheese and a cup of coffee, given to him by his host mother, Gladys, who treats the 24-year-old American more like a son than a tenant in her home. Then he spends his days teaching entrepreneurship at a high school and visiting rural areas. Sometimes, he says, he is late to meetings because members of the village have stopped him to talk.

He is not just passing through this Nicaraguan community; he is now one of them. Continue reading “Improve your Spanish, develop more patience, learn life lessons in Peace Corps Nicaragua”