Why serving in the Peace Corps isn’t putting your career on hold

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Heather Mangan, center, served in Peace Corps Lesotho, from 2011-13.

I couldn’t do Peace Corps because I had student loans. I couldn’t do Peace Corps because it would break my mother’s heart to leave for two years. I couldn’t do Peace Corps because I was on a career path and volunteering would certainly disrupt my professional climb.

These are all reasons I justified not applying to the Peace Corps when I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2007. Instead, I took a reporting job at a small daily newspaper and began living the typical American life with bills, a time card, and not enough vacation time.

The whim to join the Peace Corps, which came to me one night while procrastinating on my French homework, didn’t perish after I entered the work force. Rather, it bloomed into a full life goal. All those reasons I had used to convince myself that Peace Corps wasn’t for me could no longer overcome this picture I had in my head of being at the end of my life and not having experienced the Peace Corps. That imagined regret motivated me to apply. Continue reading “Why serving in the Peace Corps isn’t putting your career on hold”

Michigan Tech student, S.D. native to serve in Peace Corps Kyrgyz Republic

Peace Corps Masters International House at Michigan Tech.  Clockwise from the top left: Sam Clair, a current volunteer in Peru; Cole Bedford; Jomara Laboy, an invitee for Cameroon; and Eduardo Cabret, an RPCV from The Gambia and Lesotho
Peace Corps Masters International House at Michigan Tech. Clockwise from the top left: Sam Clair, a current volunteer in Peru; Cole Bedford; Jomara Laboy, an invitee for Cameroon; and Eduardo Cabret, an RPCV from The Gambia and Lesotho

Cole Bedford, 23, of Sturgis, S.D., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Kyrgyz Republic April 22 to begin training as a health extension volunteer. Bedford will live and work at the community level to raise awareness about the need for health education. He will work with community leaders and peer educators to teach families and youth about basic nutrition and sanitation, prevention of non-communicable diseases, reproductive health, and prevention of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Continue reading “Michigan Tech student, S.D. native to serve in Peace Corps Kyrgyz Republic”

Strong belief in public service led South Dakota resident to Peace Corps service in Tanzania

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Dennis “DJ” Smith, 22, of Mitchell, S.D., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Tanzania Feb. 8 to begin training as a health education volunteer. Smith will live and work at the community level to make a difference building the capacity of primary school teachers, students, out-of-school youth, community groups and health service providers to understand and promote health in their communities. In addition, he will help raise awareness about primary health care and other related health issues, particularly HIV/AIDS.

“I joined the Peace Corps because of my strong beliefs in public service and passion for helping others,” Smith said. “I hope to be able to make a difference and be able to not only teach, but to learn from a different culture and group of people.” Continue reading “Strong belief in public service led South Dakota resident to Peace Corps service in Tanzania”

South Dakotan joins Peace Corps to gain new world perspectives

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Alex Spencer, left, pictured with his nephew Christian Dewolfe and older brother Matt Dewolfe.

 

Alex Spencer, 25, of Rapid City, S.D., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Ghana Feb. 1 to begin training as a community health volunteer. Spencer will live and work at the community level to make a difference promoting positive behavior changes. He will organize projects with the goal of improving maternal and child health, reducing cases of malaria, increasing knowledge on ways to prevent HIV/AIDS and improving water, sanitation and hygiene.

“I have been interested in joining the Peace Corps since I was 14 years old. When I was younger I viewed volunteers as heroes because they travel the world and help those who need it,” Spencer said. “However, as I have gotten older, I realize that even though I still want to help people around the world, I also have a desire to open my own perspective of life to the different cultures and people out there.” Continue reading “South Dakotan joins Peace Corps to gain new world perspectives”

S.D. native not ready to leave, extends Peace Corps for third year

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When Casey Ortbahn’s Peace Corps service in Mozambique was nearing its end, he realized he wasn’t ready to leave.

The typical Peace Corps service is 27 months, but volunteers who have a desire to do more and to stay in their host countries are able to extend their service. Ortbahn, a native of Pierre, S.D., began serving as an education volunteer in 2012 in Mozambique and has decided to continue through January 2016.

“I’ve gotten to the point where I finally have a grip on the Portuguese, I’m comfortable teaching, I have meaningful relationships with my students, colleagues and community members, and to pack up and leave at this point just seems premature,” Ortbahn said. Continue reading “S.D. native not ready to leave, extends Peace Corps for third year”

Wakonda, S.D., resident begins Peace Corps service in Kosovo

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Anna Lena Wonnenberg of Wakonda, S.D., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Kosovo June 6 to begin training as an English education volunteer. Wonnenberg will be among the first group of Peace Corps volunteers to serve in Kosovo, and she will live and work at the community level to make a difference by teaching English as a second language to secondary school students.

“I care about people, and I desire to make the most of my life,” Wonnenberg, 25, said. “The Peace Corps offers the opportunity to be completely immersed in another culture and to serve poorer communities around the world and your own country in an amazing way.” Continue reading “Wakonda, S.D., resident begins Peace Corps service in Kosovo”

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities makes big jump on Peace Corps’ annual Top Schools rankings

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Peace Corps Volunteer Kevin Werner in Costa Rica.

CHICAGO – For the fourteenth year in a row, the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities has earned a spot on the Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing large universities across the country. With 57 graduates currently making a difference as Peace Corps volunteers, the university ranks No. 10, moving up 10 spots from its position last year.

Since the agency was created in 1961, 1,427 alums have served overseas, making the University of Minnesota the No. 17 all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Continue reading “University of Minnesota, Twin Cities makes big jump on Peace Corps’ annual Top Schools rankings”