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Peace Corps offers ASU students an opportunity to engage globally.


September 06, 2007

Global Engagement is one of eight design aspirations being implemented to help pioneer the New American University model at ASU. By establishing a global presence, ASU impacts research, teaching and service worldwide – and acts as a catalyst for societal change.

Service, in particular, demonstrates ASU’s commitment to be a solution-focused university. Programs and practices with global application have been established at the university, but many students want to continue service beyond graduation. To meet this demand, ASU is one of the few universities that actually have a U.S. Peace Corps representative on-site.

Torrey Cunningham, a 2002 ASU alumnus, is a Peace Corps recruiter for Central Arizona who was previously housed at ASU’s Polytechnic campus, but is now located at ASU's Tempe Center. He has a passion for connecting ASU graduates with the federal governmental agency in order to provide them with meaningful volunteer opportunities in developing countries.

“In 2006, there were 47 ASU graduates serving as Peace Corps volunteers worldwide,” says Cunningham. “ASU alone has had 757 Peace Corps volunteers since 1961.”

ASU’s ranking for producing the most Peace Corps volunteers in 2006 moved up 16 spots to debut at No. 19 on the large schools list. ASU leadership is currently taking steps to increase the number of Peace Corps volunteers even higher.

It’s a goal Cunningham believes ASU can easily achieve, especially with its university-wide focus on global engagement.

“We’re a knowledge-based institution that transcends borders,” says Anthony “Bud” Rock, vice president for Global Engagement. “By serving in the Peace Corps, our alumni can cross the artificial lines that separate one nation from another in order to make a positive impact on human lives.”

“The Peace Corps experience makes graduates more confident in their abilities – regardless of their degree. By volunteering their time and talent in an underdeveloped country, they become more aware of global issues that we don’t see here in the States,” says Cunningham.

The mission of the Peace Corps is to: help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained mean and women; help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; and help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Jonathan Stall, a 2006 graduate of ASU majoring in supply chain management and economics, is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Ghana, a sub-Saharan nation in West Africa. It is considered the most impoverished region in the world.

“My work is to develop a small community-based tourism site. I work on a team of 14 community leaders and representatives that meet to manage any of the tourism issues in town,” says Stall.

“Through its growth, the town should benefit from preserving monuments and traditional culture, increased sales of crafts and tourism services, new jobs, as well as a portion of the profits that go towards projects the town will choose and design.”

Stall says he can’t do research on the Internet or just stop by someone’s office. “There are often indigenous rituals to go through, as well as a period of building trust between each other in intimate settings.”

Even leaving the things of home in Arizona has been a struggle. As a die-hard ASU Sun Devil season ticket holder, Stall says it hasn’t been easy waiting weeks just to get updates on final scores of the games.

All in all, Stall says the experience of living and working in Ghana has been enriching. “Most people show great appreciation that I’m trying to adopt aspects of their culture, which they are very proud of.”

ASU senior Deanna Evans recently applied to the Peace Corps and is going through the interview process. The Journalism and Mass Communication major says she doesn’t want to go right into a career after she graduates because she wants to get hands-on experience in development issues – things she cares deeply about.

“I hope that I can improve the quality of life for people at my service site and also improve myself – my interpersonal abilities and my cultural awareness,” says Evans.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand what being a Peace Corps volunteer really entails. I’ve heard it said that it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love. And extremely fulfilling.”

In partnership with the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness at ASU’s Polytechnic campus, the Peace Corps offers a Master’s International Program (MIP) to provide an opportunity for students to combine academic course work with a practical field experience.

Students must meet both the ASU admission requirements and the requirements established by the Peace Corps for volunteer service.

In-class presentations on Peace Corps volunteer opportunities can be scheduled by contacting Torrey Cunningham at 480-727-8866 or emailing peacecorps@asu.edu. The Peace Corps recruitment office is located at 951 South Mill Avenue in the ASU Tempe Center, Suite 195-A, Tempe, AZ 85287.

- Comments by Jonathan Stall are reprinted with permission from Rancher’s Roundup, Dobson Ranch, Mesa, AZ.

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SIDEBAR

Peace Corps Facts

History

Officially established:
1961

Total number of volunteers
and trainees to date:
187,000

Total number of countries
served:
139

Current Volunteers

Volunteers and trainees:
7,749

Gender:
59% female, 41% male

Marital status:
93% single, 7% married

Age:
Average – 27 years old
Median – 25 years old

Volunteers over 50:
5% of volunteers
(Oldest volunteer is 79)

Education:
93% have at least an undergraduate degree
12% have graduate studies or degrees

Countries and Sectors

Current number of countries served:
73

Current number of posts:
67


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