St. Louis, Missouri, Resident Begins Peace Corps Service in Paraguay

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Thomas Hamilton, 22, of St. Louis, Missouri, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Paraguay on February 21 to begin training as a community economic development volunteer. Thomas will work at the community level to work with at-risk youth and develop camps, clubs, youth groups, and other after-school activities. Hamilton will also teach computer, money management, business, and employability skills to the community at large.

“I’ve been interested in serving, specifically in Latin America, since I studied abroad in Costa Rica in high school and became friends with a Peace Corps volunteer serving near me,” Hamilton said. “Her projects serving the people in my area inspired me, and I saw the direct effects they can have on good people.” Continue reading “St. Louis, Missouri, Resident Begins Peace Corps Service in Paraguay”

Peace Corps and the University of Missouri Announce New Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program

The Peace Corps and the University of Missouri announced the launch of a new Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program that will provide graduate school scholarships to returned Peace Corps Volunteers. All program Fellows will complete internships in under-served American communities while they complete their studies, allowing them to bring home and expand upon the skills they learned as volunteers.

“We are delighted to partner with the University of Missouri to support our returned Volunteers as they pursue higher education and continue their commitment to service,” said Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “Communities are moved forward by the selflessness of volunteers, and returned Peace Corps volunteers have unique skills and experiences to offer their local communities.”

The Coverdell Fellows program at Mizzou will be housed in the Department of Geography and offered to students pursuing a master of art’s degree in geography. Fellows selected for the program will receive a full tuition waiver and work part-time as a graduate assistant.

“The Department of Geography at Mizzou offers a disciplinary perspective that complements the Peace Corps mission and provides the infrastructure, which will position returned Peace Corps Fellows for success through participation in our established programs of research, teaching and service in the geographical sciences,” said Soren Larsen, associate professor of geography. “We are excited to be moving forward in partnership with the Peace Corps through our participation in the Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship program.” Continue reading “Peace Corps and the University of Missouri Announce New Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program”

St. Louis, Missouri, resident begins Peace Corps service in Albania

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Michael McLemore, 26, of St. Louis, Missouri, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and departed for Albania on March 4th to begin training as a community economic development volunteer. McLemore will live and work at the community level to make a difference by promoting organizational development and increasing his coworkers’ skill capacity. He may be placed in either a local government unit or one of a variety of different community-based organizations in Albania.

Prior to Peace Corps, McLemore served with the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team.

Continue reading “St. Louis, Missouri, resident begins Peace Corps service in Albania”

Columbia ranks No. 4 on Peace Corps’ Top Volunteer-Producing Metro Areas Per Capita in 2015

Alan Strathman lived in Colubmia, Mo., for 25 years before beginning his Peace Corps service in the East Caribbean.
Alan Strathman lived in Colubmia, Mo., for 25 years before beginning his Peace Corps service in the East Caribbean.

CHICAGO –  Columbia, Mo., ranks No. 4 on Peace Corps’ list of the top volunteer-producing metro areas per capita in 2015, the agency announced today. With 12 residents currently serving worldwide, Columbia generated 6.95 Peace Corps volunteers for every 100,000 residents in 2015. By comparison, the state of Missouri produced 2.3 Peace Corps volunteers per capita.

Volunteers hailing from Columbia are among the more than 220,000 Americans who have served around the world as agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development volunteers since the agency was founded by President John F. Kennedy. Since 1961, 3,344 Missouri residents have served as Peace Corps volunteers, with 141 currently in the field.   Continue reading “Columbia ranks No. 4 on Peace Corps’ Top Volunteer-Producing Metro Areas Per Capita in 2015”

Kennett, Mo., native begins Peace Corps service in Tonga

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Katie Briscoe, 23, of Kennett, Mo., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Tonga Aug. 31 to begin training as a primary education teacher trainer volunteer. Briscoe will live and work at the community level to help build the capacities of primary school staff to adopt participatory, student-centered practices that integrate English skills into other subjects and co-teach using these teaching methods. She will also work with parents and the community to strengthen support for literacy education and increase access to literacy development opportunities for older youth and adults.

“I have spent a lot of my time as a youth volunteering what little skills I did have through youth group mission trips led by my mother,” Briscoe. “That drive to offer up what skills I possess to help others, as well as a desire to explore more of the world, led me to apply to be a teacher through the Peace Corps.” Continue reading “Kennett, Mo., native begins Peace Corps service in Tonga”

Springfield, Mo., couple begins Peace Corps service in Fiji

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Eric Hillgren, 30, his wife Katie Hillgren, 29, of Springfield, Mo., have been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Fiji Aug. 31 to begin training as a youth development volunteers. The Hillgrens 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.

“My husband and I have been talking about the Peace Corps since college,” Katie Hillgren said. “We have always wanted the opportunity to live and work overseas and experience life in new ways.” Continue reading “Springfield, Mo., couple begins Peace Corps service in Fiji”

Serving as a LGBTQ Peace Corps volunteer

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Shay and Betsie, Peace Corps volunteers in Ecuador

Shay had few expectations when she began her Peace Corps service in Ecuador but, as a lesbian, she did expect that she wouldn’t be able to be open about her sexual orientation. In actuality, she met her future wife and now helps create a healthy and safe environment for other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer volunteers.

The 27-year-old Cape Girardeau, Mo., native and graduate of Southeast Missouri State University joined the Peace Corps for the opportunity to promote peace and friendship while sharing technical skills and cultures. Shay arrived in Ecuador in May 2014 and serves as a health extension volunteer. She is also the president of SpeQtrum, a support group for Peace Corps volunteers in Ecuador who identify as LGBTQ or ally.

“Being a Peace Corps volunteer presents challenges from so many angles,” Shay said. “Personally, my identifying as a lesbian has been one of the smallest challenges during service, but I do feel that my in-country staff is particularly attentive to the needs of LGBTQ volunteers.” Continue reading “Serving as a LGBTQ Peace Corps volunteer”