Indiana Peace Corps volunteer builds playground for students in Madagascar

Local children play on their new playground

Peace Corps volunteer Jenie Farinas of Peru, Indiana, is giving primary school students in Madagascar an outdoor space to play while teaching them about healthy living through an initiative she launched with her community called Project Healthy Kids. Farinas recently built the school’s first playground and is starting a school garden to give students access to nutritious foods and income generating activities.

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Meet Your Peace Corps Midwest Regional Recruiter: Jennifer Venecek

Name: Jennifer Venecek
Country of Service: Tanzania, 2005-07, Master’s International
Assignment: Health
Peace Corps Response: Malawi, 2010-11
Recruitment Territory: Chicago Continue reading

WIU graduate student helps others redefine their future with Peace Corps

315633_554586134552_1629581911_nIt’s been more than 50 years since President John F. Kennedy called Americans to service and created the Peace Corps. The message still resonates with Lexie Woodward, who served in Nicaragua from 2010-12 as a volunteer. Now as an on-campus recruiter, she is helping students at Western Illinois University find their own path to becoming volunteers.

Woodward shares her experiences and accomplishments living and working abroad in a new culture and provides information on Peace Corps’ work across the globe and its new application processes. In under an hour, WIU students can now apply to Peace Corps and choose the specific countries and assignments they’d like to be considered for, giving them greater control as they plan their careers and chart a path toward making a difference for others and themselves.

Woodward, a native of Portland, Ore., began her Peace Corps journey as an agriculture and food security volunteer in Nicaragua, helping to build 15 improved ovens and nine biofuel stoves. Additionally, she helped organize two pool tournaments, one to focus on HIV/AIDS awareness and the other to promote homemade animal feeds and the safe handling and disposing practices of agriculture chemicals. She also worked with women’s community bank, coordinated a drip-water irrigation project and painted a world map at an elementary school with the help of local children and another volunteer. Continue reading

Meet Your Peace Corps Midwest Regional Recruiter: Katie Sylvester

Name: Katie Sylvester
Country of Service: Zambia, 2004-2006
Peace Corps Fellow: University of Cincinnati School of Planning 2008-2010
Recruitment Territory: Ohio – Cincinnati, Dayton & Columbus Continue reading

Wisconsin Peace Corps volunteer helps young women find their voice through camp in Albania

Hilt.Heather_Albania with Act Now Award and Students

Peace Corps volunteer Heather Hilt with two student award recipients in Albania.

Dozens of young Albanian women are taking lessons of empowerment, leadership, and personal responsibility back to their home communities, after a national “Girls Leading Our World” (GLOW) conference organized by Peace Corps volunteer Heather Hilt, of Mequon, Wis.

The three-day event, held in Durres, Albania, in September, brought together 34 girls and nine adults from 13 cities across the country to share stories and develop ideas on women’s empowerment. The students focused on leadership, self-discovery, health, advocacy, relationship building, and future goals. Working closely with partner organizations including Anti-Trafficking In Persons (ATIP) Albania and the Mary Ward Loretta Foundation, the girls learned about human trafficking and expressed themselves through art, creative writing, and fitness. Started by Peace Corps volunteers in Romania, GLOW camps have made a difference for girls in more than 60 countries since 1995. Continue reading

Burkina Faso Peace Corps volunteer helps women improve their lives with community garden


Amber Garlock is a business development volunteer in Burkina Faso. A native of Lima, Ohio, and graduate of Ohio State University, Garlock makes a difference helping women build and maintain a community garden that improves their income and nutrition. Below, Garlock explains the project and how it is has impacted lives in her community.

Eighteen members of the women’s association Groupment Song-Taaba of Linoghin, Burkina Faso, requested Peace Corps assistance in creating a new income generating activity to increase their financial independence and raise money for themselves and their families. After we conducted a needs assessment during my first three months in service, the association decided to establish a communal garden in the dry season. The garden focused on two main issues: to provide revenue for the participants and to provide better access to nutritious vegetables. Continue reading

Western Illinois University offers new opportunities with Peace Corps Prep Program, on-campus recruiter


Returned Peace Corps volunteers, Western Illinois University staff, and Peace Corps Midwest Region representatives came together to launch WIU’s new Peace Corps Prep Program on Oct. 6.

Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill., is introducing new opportunities for students to explore and prepare for Peace Corps service. The Peace Corps Prep Program, which launched Oct. 6, is a specialized curriculum that prepares participants for Peace Corps or other global service through language and skills training as well as a service component.

WIU Provost Ken Hawkinson (who served in the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa, from 1986-88) and Peace Corps Midwest Region Manager Brad Merryman (a returned volunteer who served in Costa Rica from 2010-12) joined WIU staff and returned Peace Corps volunteers to introduce the program and the new campus-wide Peace Corps recruitment efforts.  Continue reading