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Peace Corps celebrates 50th and encourages students

Claire Higgins

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Northern Kentucky University and the Cincinnati Area Returned Volunteers (CARV) are celebrating the Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary by encouraging students to get involved and use the corps to their advantage after graduation.

On March 1, 1961, John F. Kennedy officially created the Peace Corps as a way to encourage mutual understanding between Americans and people of other nations and cultures. Now, after 50 years, Peace Corps volunteers become acquainted with over 139 different countries, and the corps continues to transform as the years go on.

Study abroad adviser Beth Lorenz wants students to know what exactly the Peace Corps is, and she believes now is the time to learn.

“Students kind of have an idea of what Peace Corps is, but not really; like, they know you go out and volunteer. That’s about it,” she said.

The Peace Corps provides opportunities for students, specifically to graduates, looking for a global experience after college. Many students have started looking to the Peace Corps (even though it is volunteer and unpaid) for the international experience so that they can  use what they learned in school and apply it abroad, according to Lorenz.

According to Evan Gay, a Peace Corps veteran and member of CARV, the corps can benefit students because it “provides a life experience that is unachievable within our borders.”

“Most people who have been in the Peace Corps find that seeing the world through the eyes of another culture provides understanding and insights that serve them well in their own lives,” Gay said.

NKU organizations Phi Beta Delta, the Office of Education Abroad, Scripps Howard for Civic Engagement and the International Education Center partnered with CARV to host a 50th anniversary celebration March 1 in the Student Union Ballroom.

“The whole thing is to create a buzz,” said Francois LeRoy, professor of history and geography. “I think most people agree that the Peace Corps has done wonderful things for the past 50 years, and it’s just another way to raise awareness to NKU students of what they can do.”

The Info Fair and panel discussion portions of the event focused on the things the Peace Corps has done so far, and also the future of the corps. Both the fair and the panel, led by WVXU News director Maryanne Zeleznik, included returned volunteers and members of other service organizations.

The event’s reception featured world music and dancing from the NKU Latin Jazz Ensemble, Byzantine music group Cosmeu and Danza Contiga Peru. CARV members and potential Peace Corps volunteers had the chance to discuss the future of the corps.

One of CARV’s most recent returned volunteer, Megan McClellan, served in Niger as an agriculture volunteer. She hopes to see the  Peace Corps and the Peace Corps Response grow larger. The Peace Corps Response is a program for returned veterans to put their technical knowledge of a specific area to countries that need it.

Veterans were not the only ones who attended, students were encouraged to participate and interact with the veterans to get a better understanding for the Peace Corps. Lorenz and LeRoy also emphasized that the corps is looking for recent graduates to carry the corps’ through the next 50 years.

Freshman environmental science major Ashley Tiemann said she attended the event because she is interested in joining the corps after graduation.

“I just want to help people; I consider  myself a humanitarian,” she said. “I want to continue that.”

Similarly, Cole De Vault, a freshman pre-med and health and fitness major, wants to eventually use his medical knowledge to help people.

For more information, contact Beth Lorenz at lorenze@nku.edu or Francois LeRoy at leroy@nku.edu. To learn more about CARV and the Peace Corps visit http://www.cincinnatirpca.org/.

Story by Claire Higgins

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Peace Corps celebrates 50th and encourages students