Volunteers: New Grad School Opportunities at Suffolk University

The Peace Corps recently announced its new partnership with Suffolk University for a graduate school program – known as the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program – which will provide scholarships to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who complete an internship that is relevant to their studies and serves a neglected community in America.

“Returning Peace Corps Volunteers will find a warm welcome at Suffolk University, which has a long tradition of promoting service learning that benefits the community,” said Marisa Kelly, the University’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. “We look forward to engaging our Coverdell Fellows academically and providing internship opportunities that will help them grow into careers that build on their public service experience.”

The new partnership will offer degrees in healthcare and public administration in the Sawyer Business School and degrees in crime and justice studies, ethics and public policy, mental health counseling and political science in the College of Arts and Sciences.

To successfully complete the program, participating Suffolk Coverdell Fellows are encouraged to pursue internships at local non-profits and government organizations, such as the South Boston Community Health Center, Boys and Girls Club of Boston, the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness or Prisoners’ Legal Services.

Candidates for the program will receive financial aid that amounts to at least 30 percent of tuition, ranging from $8,054 to $17,072 per year depending on their degree.

Click here to read more about the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program. To learn how you can become a Suffolk Coverdell Fellow, contact Cory J. Meyers, Director of Graduate Admission at Suffolk University, at (617) 573-8302.

Massachusetts Volunteer Lands Spot in National Peace Corps PSA

The Peace Corps recently debuted a new public service announcement via YouTube – complete with photos taken by Volunteers while overseas, including Florence, Mass. native Jonathan Foster-Moore – to capture the authentic Peace Corps experience.

“Volunteers are the heart of the Peace Corps, and these passionate photos provide a glimpse into their stories and the moments that will forever change them and the communities they serve,” said Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “As we revitalize our recruitment and outreach, we hope this new message will inspire viewers to learn more about how they can make a difference with the Peace Corps.”

The 30-second video titled “Defining Moments” – which features the song “Peace” by American rock band O.A.R. – showcases photos that were selected for the agency’s Volunteer Viewfinder Photo Contest in August. The contest sought photos from both current and Returned Volunteers who documented extraordinary scenes during their Peace Corps service and judged these entries on creativity, photographic quality, and strength in representing the contest theme.

Volunteer Jonathan Foster-Moore's winning photo taken in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Volunteer Jonathan Foster-Moore’s winning photo.

Among this year’s five winners is Jonathan – a St. Lawrence University alum who is currently serving in the Kyrgyz Republic – for his photo taken at a training site in his host country.

“A Volunteer faced off against our language and cross-cultural trainer in an exciting arm-wrestling match,” he noted on his winning entry. “The trainer’s daughter stood beside him, offering encouragement, while fellow Volunteers cheered for both.”

In addition to Mr. Foster-Moore, the following current and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers from across the nation also won the photo contest.

  • Michelle Chan, of Takoma Park, Maryland (served in Jordan)
  • Natalie Moore, of Alexandria, Virginia (currently serving in Burkina Faso)
  • Cappy Phalen, of Clarksville, Maryland (served in Guinea)
  • Westen Thomas, of Mandan, North Dakota (currently serving in Cambodia)

As part of a six-week digital campaign, the PSA featuring all of these winning entries has also appeared on platforms such as Hulu, Pandora, Facebook and the ESPN network’s website.

Click here to see all of the winning entries from our Volunteer Viewfinder Photo Contest.

Ghouls & Goblins Around the Globe

Kids at the Halloween carnival organized by  Peace Corps Volunteers in southeastern Morocco

Kids enjoy the Halloween carnival organized by Peace Corps Volunteers in southeastern Morocco

Americans love Halloween, and most of us have fond childhood memories of carving jack-o’-lanterns, selecting costumes and trick-or-treating.  For Peace Corps Volunteers, this spookiest of holidays can also be a fun way to teach students, friends and neighbors about Halloween traditions and American culture.

Muhlenberg College alumna Samantha Ginsburg, who recently returned from Peace Corps service in Morocco, brought local youth to a Halloween carnival organized by her fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and community members. The carnival was held at a youth club in southeastern Morocco and more than 120 children attended.

“The kids participated in classic Halloween activities like bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving and face-painting,” Samantha explained. “The event was a huge success!”

Bobbing for apples in Morocco.

Bobbing for apples in Morocco.

Meanwhile, in Costa Rica, New York City resident Esteli Pacio took part in a four-week English camp where Peace Corps Volunteers used the ghostly celebration as a vocabulary lesson. The Volunteers taught local secondary school students Halloween words and had them practice telling scary stories in English.

“It was the first time most of these children had heard of or celebrated Halloween,” said Esteli, who served in Costa Rica from 2012-2014. “These activities got them excited about English and American culture.”

In Costa Rica, Peace Corps Volunteers held Halloween-themed English lessons.

In Costa Rica, Peace Corps Volunteers held Halloween-themed English lessons.

Globetrotting in the Big Apple

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Ethiopia chat with an Around the World attendee.

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Ethiopia chat with an Around the World attendee.

For two days in October, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers came together in New York City – one of the most diverse cultural hubs in the nation – to learn about international career opportunities with the United Nations and share their stories of service with potential applicants exploring a new opportunity to choose their host countries.

As part of the Peace Corps’ Around the World Fair, Returned Volunteers gathered at The New School to inform students and guests about serving overseas in hundreds of countries, spanning from Armenia to Zambia. Returned Volunteers showed off their international pride by wearing customary attire from each of their host countries and displaying flags and other mementos from their time abroad.

Guests were also encouraged to try on a selection of traditional dress at the fair and pose for pictures in their outfits. Click here for a photo gallery of fashions from around the world.

Among the festivities, Associate Director of Volunteer Recruitment and Selection Helen Lowman delivered a speech to introduce guests to the agency’s mission and history. She also welcomed attendees who were recently invited to serve as Volunteers to speak to the crowd and meet their new Peace Corps family.

The next day, Returned Volunteers attended a career event to learn about working with the United Nations. At the event, Chief of Staff Laura Chambers delivered opening remarks before introducing John Ericson, Chief of the Outreach Unit in the Office of Human Resources Management for the U.N. Secretariat, who offered information about applying for career opportunities in the organization.

Later that day, U.N. representatives participated in a panel discussion to field questions about their overall roles in several agencies. Returned Volunteers also had the chance to network with U.N. staff members and ask questions during an informal session.

New Jersey Volunteer Takes Students Online in Mozambique

Veronica with her students in Mozambique

Veronica with her students in Mozambique

When Veronica Armstead-Williams, 24, left her home in Moorestown, N.J. to depart for service in Mozambique, she prepared to work as a secondary English education Volunteer at a local school. It wasn’t until she finished training that her role changed to teach another language – one that’s a bit more high-tech.

Despite training in multiple levels of Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Veronica was eventually assigned by her school’s director to work as a tenth grade Information and Communications Technology teacher. With four years’ experience working at Best Buy Mobile under her belt, the Fordham University alum chose to step up to the challenge with any teaching resources that were available.

“How do you teach ICT with just a chalk board and chalk? With a lot of patience and creativity,” she explained.

Veronica learned that for her to teach about technology, she would need the technology. Her school’s computer lab was equipped with only three computers, which could accommodate about 2,500 students in a school of more than 4,000.

To furnish her classroom with more tech supplies, she wrote a Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) grant to raise funding for these tools, which is currently around $200 away from its $9,786 goal. She also acquired two SmartBoard systems from the local Ministry of Education, along with a modem, wireless router and firewall that were installed by the school.

While she still seeks financial support for high-tech teaching materials, Veronica has now supplied her classroom with five working computers that have helped her teach students how to use multiple programs and software.

“I am proud to say, through practical testing, all 464 of my 11th grade students can turn on a computer, use a mouse and keyboard and open Microsoft Word to type a document,” she said. “It may not seem like much, but most of these kids hadn’t even touched a computer mouse before this year.”

Aside from her work as a secondary Education Volunteer, Veronica has also devoted her time to several secondary projects, particularly JUNTOS – a youth activist program started by Peace Corps Volunteers and their counterparts to promote positive behavioral change among Mozambican youth. Such change is aimed to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in Mozambique and reinforce the ability to identify cultural norms and unhealthy gender stereotypes through cultural expression.

Last year, the JUNTOS group offered weekly Health Education courses to five classes of 56 students each in local schools. The group is currently planning to collaborate with the local Health Center and other community organizations to build a small youth center, in which students can meet with peer educators to learn about the prevention of malaria, HIV/AIDS and early or unplanned pregnancies.

After months of educating local youth on managing technology and healthy lifestyles, Veronica said she has spent some of the most fulfilling years of her life in Mozambique and looks forward to next year’s adventures with “full anticipation.”

“No one can fit 27 months into two suitcases,” Veronica said, “And I wouldn’t have been able to even imagine my life folding out the way it has over the past 24 months.”

“It is something that takes commitment, patience and flexibility,” she added. “You have to become part of the community and with that comes creating relationships and memories that will last for a lifetime, let alone the relationships created within the Peace Corps community.”

Click here to learn more about Veronica’s PCPP grant or to make a donation.