Happy 50th Peace Corps!

On behalf of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, I want to send an extra special shout out to the U.S. Peace Corps in honor of its 50th Anniversary.
As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV), I can only express my sincerest gratitude to this program as it truly was a life changing experience for me, as cliché as that sounds.

I served as an Environmental Volunteer in the Peace Corps from 2002-04 in Jamaica. I worked with the Jamaica 4-H organization assisting with the implementation of environmentally friendly, income generating activities in local schools and throughout the community. Only in the Peace Corps can you dabble in everything from vermi-composting, chicken rearing, bee keeping, pottery making,  seat turtle egg tracking, learning how to play dominoes, making plantain wine and learning how to juke coconuts from a tree and slice them open with a machete, to name a few things. While I had a plethora of tangible  projects going on at any one given time, the most impactful experiences for me (and hopefully for my community too) were the intangible interactions. The time spent at the girls orphanage with my little ladies – them huddled around, yanking on my hair, “miss, miss, lek me braid your hair;” the near dusk, after-work hours swinging in my hammock with my little neighbors, reading books and pointing at pictures; slamming dominoes with the guys at the local rum bar and simply sitting down with my community folks, chatting about the differences between our countries, the world, their cousins in New York City (Sherika and Tonya, do you know them?), the struggles they faced on a daily basis, etc. As challenging as life was and continues to be for most in that country, Jamaicans are contagiously optimistic, give thanks… take time.  Thank you Peace Corps for providing the opportunity for me to spend two years in Highgate, St. Mary Jamaica. There are very few days, even  nearly seven years after COSing, when I don’t reflect on my time in the Peace Corps and my beautiful community (and when I don’t give thanks for hot showers and lack of cockroaches).

If you are interested in joining the Peace Corps AND earning a Master’s degree, the Josef Korbel School offers two great options:
Master’s International Program
Fellows USA Program

For more information about the U.S. Peace Corps, check out its web site.
NPR posted an article and photos today about the 50th anniversary celebrations as well which you can access here.

As they say in Jamaica, walk good.


Nicole Vilegi
Associate Director of Graduate Admissions
Josef Korbel School of International Studies


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