By Lauren Foote
Youngstown State University will host the largest career fair in the school’s history on March 31 — offering students access to opportunities in a variety of fields. Among these opportunities is one that perhaps students may not have otherwise considered — the opportunity to join the Peace Corps.
The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the United States government. Their stated mission is to provide technical assistance, help people outside the United States to understand American culture and help Americans to understand the cultures of other countries. The work is generally related to social and economic development.
Peace Corps volunteers work with governments, schools, nonprofit organizations, nongovernment organizations and entrepreneurs in education, hunger, business, information technology, agriculture and the environment. After 24 months of service, volunteers can request an extension of service.
There will be a Peace Corps representative at YSU’s upcoming career fair who will broadcast to students the benefits of joining the organization.
Annabel Khouri, a representative for the Peace Corps, is in constant contact with YSU students and encourages students who feel a connection with service and development to apply. She said that she believes all students, from any major or background, can get something from the opportunity.
“I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya and it remains one of the most memorable, challenging and rewarding experiences of my life,” Khouri said.
Volunteers receive language, cross-cultural and technical training. The Peace Corps also provides travel and living expenses as well as health insurance and vacation time.
Certain student loans may be eligible for deferment depending upon how long a person is part of the corps. There can also be a “re-adjustment” allowance of more than $8,000 (pre-tax) upon completion of service.
There are also unique graduate school opportunities associated with the Peace Corps. They provide transition, job support and social networking to volunteers after service. Also, if undecided on a further course of action, there are opportunities for short-term assignments through Peace Corps Response.
All majors are welcome to apply for Peace Corps positions in education, health, community economic development, youth in development, agriculture and environment. Some students will gain skills through their course work and may be more competitive as a result. Education, public health, social work, environmental studies and business nicely align with the corps’ current needs.
“Our strongest applicants have community service, internship and leadership experience. Teaching, tutoring and mentoring are great skills for Peace Corps,” Khouri said. “We also welcome those with second language skills, particularly French and Spanish, though we have several open positions that have no language requirements.”