Naperville couple, natives of Colombia, begin Peace Corps service in Mozambique

Luis and Marissa Gast, center, pictured with their sons

Luis and Marissa Gast, center, pictured with their sons

Luis and Marissa Gast, of Naperville, Ill., have been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Mozambique Sept. 24 to begin training as education volunteers. They will live and work at the community level to make a difference as secondary teachers with Luis teaching math and Marissa instructing English. They will also be involved in community-based and school-based projects.

“Aside from traveling and adventure, the Peace Corps gives you the opportunity to really spend time with the community, to know the people and learn about the culture, to learn and to have the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences with local people,” Luis said. Continue reading

Wisconsin native prepares for Peace Corps service in Mozambique

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Megan Welz, 23, of Minocqua, Wis., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Mozambique Sept. 24 to begin training as an education volunteer. Welz will live and work at the community level to make a difference teaching general science, biology, chemistry and physics. In addition to teaching, Welz will integrate health and environmental education into the classroom and will engage in other school and community activities.

“I hope to make a difference in others’ lives and to be open minded as to let them change my life,” Welz said. Continue reading

College of Wooster, Peace Corps build partnership with new Prep Program

Christen Maguire, a College of Wooster graduate, currently serves with the Peace Corps as an education volunteer in Burkina Faso.

Christen Maguire, a College of Wooster graduate, currently serves with the Peace Corps as an education volunteer in Burkina Faso.

A new program at The College of Wooster is building on the school’s history with Peace Corps, helping more Wooster students prepare to make a difference as international volunteers.

Wooster now offers a Peace Corps Prep Program, which is coordinated through faculty members and in conjunction with the university’s Advising, Planning, Experiential Learning (APEX) program. The Prep Program consists of mentoring and advising, foreign language study, courses focusing on the developing world and on particular skill areas, and community service, internships or study abroad.  The program will help prepare students for work in international development, potentially with Peace Corps.

Wooster will announce the program during an official signing event in October, which will include college leadership, representatives from Peace Corps and returned volunteers. Students are already beginning to enroll in the program.

“We are a campus that has a long tradition of international education,” said Harry Gamble, a returned Peace Corps volunteer (Mali, 1992-94) and a faculty member on Wooster’s Prep Program committee. “Peace Corps really fits in well with Wooster’s mission and the kind of students we attract, who are really engaged and want to get out in the world and make a difference.” Continue reading

Peace Corps gives twins the opportunity to make an impact

Seaburg.Amanda&AllisonTwins Allison and Amanda Seaburg are best friends. Although they may fight from time to time, as sisters do, they’ve always been there for each other. A few months after graduating from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, they are both departing to serve as Peace Corps volunteers.

“I think we are both adventurous, and we are always looking for a new experience,” Allison said. “Peace Corps was the perfect opportunity to get our adventure fix but also make our own impact in the world.”

The identical twins from Hopkins, Minn., will both serve as health extension volunteers in Latin America and will make a difference raising awareness on the needs for health education. Amanda left first on Aug. 19 to the Dominican Republic and then Allison on Sept. 10 to Peru. Although they never really discussed joining Peace Corps, they always knew they both wanted to do it.

“This will be a good experience for them,” said their father, Mark Seaburg. “This gives them a chance to do some good in the world for needy people. And they will learn a lot about themselves.” Continue reading

Michigan native uses blog to show real Thailand


Peace Corps volunteer Christine Bedenis wants people in the U.S. to see Thailand for more than white sand beaches and elephant rides.

Bedenis, an education volunteer in Thailand, uses blog posts and videos to bring a richer and truer picture of Thai culture to her readers. With research and observation, she describes various aspects of the culture, such as the lost art of shadow plays, the meaning behind the country’s national anthem and the complexity of Thai gender roles. Her blog reflects Peace Corps’ Third Goal of promoting a better understanding among Americans of other people and cultures around the world. She focuses more on Thai culture than her own experiences.

“When I found out I was coming to Thailand, I got a lot of people telling me about their vacations here and this amazing resort they stayed at on some amazing beach,” she said. “With my blog, I wanted to show another part of Thailand that gets skipped over in most people’s vacations here, the rituals and beliefs, the vast parts of the country that don’t benefit from tourism money and the spirit of the people here.” Continue reading

Ohio couple wins Peace Corps’ Blog It Home competition through vivid stories of life in China

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Keith and Heather May, center, are English education volunteers in China.

Keith and Heather May left their careers, sold their home and gave away their pets to be Peace Corps volunteers in China. They couldn’t predict how their service would turn out, but they did know they would have great stories to tell.

The Mays, who teach English at Guiyang University, started a blog to tell those stories, but they soon saw their blog as an opportunity to share different perspectives from those often portrayed in the U.S. Through stories of their students and travels throughout the country, the Mays describe a developing country that is full of beautiful landscapes and people. Their blog reflects Peace Corps’ Third Goal of promoting a better understanding among Americans of other people and cultures

“Americans have many thoughts on China,” Keith said. “It is very important for us to be honest and authentic, and not generalize an entire country and its people. It is best if we focus on particular moments, places and people without falling into the trap of generalizing or exaggerating the positive or negative.” Continue reading

From AmeriCorps to Peace Corps, Indianapolis native commits to service-oriented work

Guerin.Danielle_CameroonDanielle Guerin, of Indianapolis, was studying entrepreneurship at Bradley University, in Peoria, Ill., when she began to doubt a future in the for-profit world. When she brought up the Peace Corps to her college adviser, she was encouraged to try AmeriCorps to determine if service work was really for her.

It was, and after working as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Indianapolis, Guerin is ready to begin her Peace Corps service as an agriculture extension volunteer. She departed for Cameroon Sept. 9 and will live and work at the community level to make a difference assisting farmers and those who work with agricultural products from farming/production to market.

During her AmeriCorps service, Guerin, 24, knew she still wanted to do Peace Corps, but she was also interested in going to graduate school. She visited Indiana University Bloomington’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs and learned about its Peace Corps Master’s International program, which allows her to earn her master’s degree and complete her Peace Corps service simultaneously. As soon as she was accepted into the program, she began applying to Peace Corps. IU Bloomington is one of Peace Corps top schools for undergraduates and MI students, ranking 25th and 10th in the nation. Continue reading