Community and Organizational Development Advisor Herminia Gomez held a presentation for the Peace Corps volunteer program and its developing presence on the University of Maine campus on Tuesday, Nov. 7 from 3-4 p.m. at the Career Center Library in the Memorial Union.
Established in 1961, the Peace Corps is a government volunteer organization that currently serves 61 posts in 65 countries, and has served in 141 countries to date. There were 7,361 volunteers and trainees at the time of the presentation, and over 230,000 have served since the organization’s inception. Volunteers serve in a variety of work areas, including education and health, youth development and environment, community economic development and agriculture. They also engage in short-term, high-level impact assignments under the category of “Peace Corps response.”
Once introductions were complete, Gomez discussed college organizations dedicated to promoting and helping Peace Corps service, starting with Peace Corps Prep, a certificate program designed to train undergraduates to “make you a more competitive applicant.” The program helps select courses that will satisfy four core competencies required for completion: Sector-specific skill in the desired work area, foreign language proficiency, intercultural competence, and professional savvy and leadership training. They offer resume and interview preparation assistance, and provide templates for student applications. While the University of Maine does not currently offer this program, they are looking to see if professors are interested in contributing to the project.
Also mentioned was the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, a graduate fellowship program that offers financial assistance to volunteers returning from their service, offering internship positions and applications to aid graduate programs at partner universities. They are planning to set a new standard where partnered universities must cover 25 percent of their tuition fees at minimum.
Finally, Gomez gave a brief walkthrough of the Volunteer Openings page of the Peace Corps website. “We try to make online process as transparent as possible.” Volunteers can search for open positions by country, language requirement, work area and whether couples are accepted. “You can really search by what you are interested in…your assignment should really match your professional goals.” Education positions mean volunteers can earn their TEFL certifications during their service. Student loans are frozen during service, health insurance is covered and service qualifies as federal government work years for retirement.
For more information, you can find the Peace Corps website at peacecorps.gov. For those interested in a one-on-one meeting with a recruiter, contact Danny Livengood at firstname.lastname@example.org.