Madison resident begins Peace Corps service in Georgia

Mary Chandler (center) will depart for Peace Corps service in Georgia on April 18.
Mary Chandler (center) will depart for Peace Corps service in Georgia on April 18.

Mary Chandler, 64, of Madison, Wisconsin, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Georgia on April 18 to begin training as a community development advisor. Chandler will work at the community level to help improve employability, financial literacy, management, marketing and networking skills at local organizations. She will also work with non-governmental organizations and not-for-profit groups to improve her community’s standard of living.

“I wanted to spend some of my time giving back. I’m at a new beginning in life,” Chandler said. “I recently sold a company that engaged me daily for many, many years. At a crossroad, I decided to take the path that led me to this new adventure.” Continue reading “Madison resident begins Peace Corps service in Georgia”

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 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”

Son’s Peace Corps service inspires retiree parents to make a difference as volunteers

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Elsa and Jeff Shaver wash clothes in Botswana.

 

Elsa Shaver had walked by a stack of mail nearly 50 times before the headline on a magazine jumped at her: “My two years in the Peace Corps as an electrical engineer.” Her son Lee was approaching his graduation from LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, where he studied electrical engineering, and unsure about his next step. As she read the article, she was more convinced that Peace Corps was the right fit for her son.

That article would launch a path to Peace Corps for not only Lee, but for Elsa and her husband, Jeff, as well. The three Shavers, originally from Syracuse, N.Y., but now living in Madison, Wis., are all returned Peace Corps volunteers, with Lee serving in El Salvador from 2007-09 and Elsa and Jeff serving in Botswana from 2012-14. Continue reading “Son’s Peace Corps service inspires retiree parents to make a difference as volunteers”

Project update: Soy restaurant celebrates grand opening in Cameroon

Peace Corps volunteers and community members enjoy free samples of soy milk and tofu at the opening of Restaurant Saare Soja.
Peace Corps volunteers and community members enjoy free samples of soy milk and tofu at the opening of Restaurant Saare Soja.

University of Michigan alum Marissa Falk of Madison, Wis., has been serving as a health volunteer in Cameroon since September 2012. Falk, who used the Peace Corps Partnership Program to help women in her community create a soy café, wrote in with this update on the project’s success.

With the help of Peace Corps in highlighting my soy cooperative project and sharing it through social media channels, our grant was fully funded early this year. Malnutrition and the education of young girls are two significant obstacles in my community. Many of the women in the soy cooperative are unmarried and are the breadwinners for their families. This is especially difficult for them because many did not attend school, and thus are not qualified for jobs requiring specific skillsets. The goal of this project is twofold: to provide the women with money so they can manage both their own lives and their families’ lives, and to combat malnutrition by offering tofu and soy milk, in addition to other traditional meals. Continue reading “Project update: Soy restaurant celebrates grand opening in Cameroon”

In Peace Corps and grad school, DePaul student explores passion for international development

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Carmen Fleming served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama from 2010-12.

As graduation day approached at Middlebury College in Vermont, Carmen Fleming realized she wasn’t particularly interested in the economics degree she had earned. She was more drawn to the field of international development.

“After college, the one thing I knew I didn’t want to do was work in an office,” said Fleming, who has lived throughout the country but considers Madison, Wis., her hometown. “I wanted to be working with people, and I wanted to travel. I had always known about the Peace Corps, and the more I learned about it the more it seemed like the right experience for me post-college.”

Peace Corps ended up being a life-changing decision for Fleming – her two years of grassroots development work made a difference in the community where she served and in Fleming’s own life, as well. Now, she’s earning a master’s degree through DePaul University’s Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program. Fleming and all returned Peace Corps volunteers enjoy lifetime eligibility for the program, which offers financial assistance and internships at more than 80 schools nationwide.

Continue reading “In Peace Corps and grad school, DePaul student explores passion for international development”

University of Michigan earns spot on Peace Corps’ annual Top Schools rankings

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Peace Corps Volunteer Marissa Falk in Cameroon.

CHICAGO – For the fourteenth year in a row, the University of Michigan (U-M) at Ann Arbor has earned a spot on the Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing large universities across the country. With 81 graduates currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers, the university ranks at No. 5 this year.

Since the agency was created in 1961, 2,556 Michigan alums have served overseas, making U-M the No. 4 all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Continue reading “University of Michigan earns spot on Peace Corps’ annual Top Schools rankings”