BRYN MAWR AMONG TOP CONTRIBUTORS TO PEACE CORPS
Sixteen Bryn Mawr graduates are currently serving in the Peace Corps, making Bryn Mawr one of the top per-capita producers of Peace Corps volunteers in the country. In the number of Peace Corps volunteers per student, Bryn Mawr is second only to Grinnell College, the Peace Corps Press Office says.
The Peace Corps was established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, who had challenged students to serve their country and the cause of peace by living and working in the developing world. Each volunteer spends two years in a developing country, first learning the local language and customs and then helping communities make gains in areas such as education, youth outreach and community development, business development, environment and conservation, agriculture, health and HIV/AIDS awareness, and information technology.
The Bryn Mawr alumnae who are currently serving are stationed in Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Cameroon, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Panama, Senegal and Uzbekistan. Four of the volunteers are assigned to the field of health, three to environmental education, three to teaching English and one each to forestry, protected-areas management, animal husbandry, agriculture and nongovernmental organization (NGO) development.
A Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) is expected to adopt a standard of living comparable to that of the community she or he is serving. For many PCVs, this means foregoing services — such as electricity and running water — that most Americans take for granted.
"You adjust pretty quickly to the lack of amenities," says Elisha Moore-Delate '01, who recently returned from a two-year term of service in the West African nation of Togo. "The real challenge was learning to operate in a very different culture. You start out feeling that cultural differences are a barrier to understanding others and to being understood. Eventually you have to overcome that."
Moore-Delate, a double major in political science and French, completed a concentration in international economic relations at Bryn Mawr and a summer course in economics at Bryn Mawr's program in Avignon, France. She was assigned to small-business development in the Peace Corps.
"I worked with a microlender and started an eco-tourism project centered on a local waterfall," she says.
The opportunity to help those who are inadequately represented on the world stage drew Moore-Delate to the Peace Corps. "I've always been interested in human rights," she explains. She hopes to pursue a career in international development and saw the Peace Corps as an ideal entry to the field.
"Most entry-level jobs in international development are desk jobs in Washington," she says. "With the Peace Corps, I could go abroad right away."
Moore-Delate says the Peace Corps has given her a more realistic view of the problems that tend to reduce the effectiveness of foreign aid. "I still think there are solutions to be found," she adds. "The underrepresented and impoverished still need help. The fact that the task is difficult doesn't mean that they don't deserve better."
|Jenna Rosania '05
Jenna Rosania '05 agrees. The San Francisco native, who is completing an environmental-studies concentration in an anthropology major, has been accepted into the Peace Corps for a term of service to begin later this year. She will be posted in Eastern Europe as an environmental volunteer, although she doesn't yet know precisely where.
Rosania has a wealth of experience in community service and activism both at Bryn Mawr and at home in San Francisco. In Pennsylvania, she has volunteered in a program that helps low-income individuals with income-tax filing and has tutored public-school students. She worked for the Climate Campaign as the Eastern Pennsylvania coordinator of all the colleges in the area, organizing schools for endorsement of bills, contacting media in the area, and conducting other work for policies regarding the environment in the Eastern States.
At home, Rosania worked for California Appellate Project, a nonprofit law firm and resource center, by investigating the histories of death-row inmates and finding records for their upcoming appeals; she also worked at Clean Water Action, a grass-roots community organization.
Rosania is interested in a career with a nonprofit agency that promotes human rights, and she hopes that her service in the Peace Corps will help her clarify her career goals and give her solid experience in international aid. She says that her interest in the Peace Corps is also motivated, in part, by a sense that the reputation of the United States is slipping in the developing world.
"The Peace Corps shows people around the world that the United States is not just a military power," she says. "We have the resources to sponsor programs that really help people, and it's important to participate."
Peace Corps recruiters will be in the Bi-College community three times this spring: at a nonprofit career fair at Bryn Mawr on Friday, Feb. 25, from 1 to 4 p.m.; at an information table in Bryn Mawr's Campus Center on Wednesday, March 2, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and hosting a general information session at Haverford on Wednesday, March 2, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact the Bi-Co Career Development Office or visit the Peace Corps Web site.
to Bryn Mawr Now 2/3/2005