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Peace Corps recruiter exposes students to global opportunities

Published: 11/06/14 4:04PM
By: booner

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(Left) Leslie Jean-Pierre, a regional recruiter and outreach specialist for The Peace Corps, speaks to a group of veterinary technology students about the possibilities available in the organization at the Otis O’Neal Veterinary Science Building Oct. 29

Some Fort Valley State University students may have an opportunity to travel abroad free of charge after graduation.

Leslie Jean-Pierre, a regional recruiter and outreach specialist for the Southeast Regional Peace Corps Recruitment Office in Atlanta, visited campus Oct. 29 to recruit students for The Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps is a U.S. service organization developed to send Americans abroad to help countries in meeting their needs in numerous arenas for trained men and women. It is also designed to help Americans gain a better understanding of the people they help and in turn, help those people gain a better understanding of Americans. Currently, the Peace Corps has more than 7,209 people serving in 65 countries.    

Jean-Pierre’s visit to the class was one of six stops to various classes at FVSU.  He also spoke to students in Spanish, education, and environmental science classes. The recruiter said these areas are in high demand for service in the Peace Corps.

“College students generally have the experience we are looking for. They’re focused on their degree that can be highly used or requested from the countries that we’re in,” Jean-Pierre said. He also said that some colleges require their students to perform community service, and that experience is needed in some countries serviced by the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps accepts volunteers from a variety of academic backgrounds, but agriculture is one of the more requested areas. “One of the programs that we’re always looking for volunteers for is ag [agriculture] and education as well. And Fort Valley, being the Ag school that it is, I think is a primary location for us to recruit from,” Jean-Pierre said.

To be eligible to join the Peace Corps, one must be 18 years or older and be interested in performing public service abroad. Ninety percent of all Peace Corps openings do require a bachelor’s degree. The usual commitment for a Peace Corps volunteer is 27 months. Volunteers are compensated with a monthly living and housing allowance, full health and dental plans are provided and travel to and from the country of service. Other perks include housing and educational benefits.

Natalie Goggins, a junior veterinary technology major from Stone Mountain, is interested in joining the Peace Corps after listening to Jean-Pierre’s presentation. “I’m interested in the Peace Corps because I’ve been out of the country before,” Goggins said. Her overseas experience comes from taking a weeklong trip with her Decatur High School Band to Austria and Slovakia. She also said the Peace Corps will present her an opportunity to receive work experience to add her resume’.

Goggins said that should she join, she wants to make a positive impact on the community she serves, especially if it’s in a developing country. “I just want to see what ideas I can bring (to that country); how I could affect that community and know that I left them with something.  Basically, I want to leave an imprint on them and they leave an imprint on me,” Goggins said.

The Peace Corps, founded in March 1961, has more than 215,000 people to serve in its ranks and has provided help to over 139 countries. To find out more about the organization visit peacecorps.gov.