By Diana Gomez
Peace Corps Recruiter
It might sound a bit absurd to celebrate “Peace” when the world is going through so many changes. Everyday, we listen to the disturbing news on the radio or we watch it on television. It is hard to believe that there is a way to keep or to do something about Peace.
One of the ways to do something about Peace is through the Peace Corp. Believe me, it is very exciting, full of challenges, adventures, travel, cross-cultural relationships, delicious international food, and many other experiences that will be waiting for you. The question is, how far will you go?
Life is calling you. You can do something. You can make changes in this planet. I know because I have done it. I know how up-lifting and rewarding the experience of doing volunteer work is.
I joined Peace Corps in 1999. I was invited to go to Latin America because of my Mexican and American background; during the process of my application there were some changes and at the last moment I was invited to serve in Central Europe in Armenia.
The challenge started with how a Mexican American woman of 59 years of age would contribute to a former communist country?
I looked back at the time of my training and thought I wouldn’t be able to survive. My business background was out of date, my English was not good enough to teach English but my perseverance prevailed. My knowledge of fundraiser for unprivileged Mexican children at the border plus the three months training with the Peace Corps prepared me for my two years of services.
I became a Community Developer in a little town of Yeghegnadzor. I was able to produce events for the community, which included 50 children, in a chorus singing songs from different countries in different languages. Also, children danced Folklore. Other children played classic melodies by piano, violin and ethnic instruments. One of my most memorable moments was when all of them performed to the theme of “Let There be Peace in the World.”
Not only did I stay for the two years, but I stayed over to train the new volunteers arriving to Armenia after us. Moreover, I was invited by another organization to go back and train women in leadership skills and roles. Finally, after three years full of marvelous experiences, I am now working at UCSD as a recruiter and representative of Peace Corps.
In 2004, for the first time, UCSD has ranked among the top 25 large schools in the country for the number of its alumni that joined the Peace Corps last year.
While being a college graduate is not a requirement to join the organization, 97 percent of volunteers have undergraduate degrees and 13 percent hold graduate degrees. Through the Peace Corps, 7,733 volunteers are working around the world, according to Arnold.
I think that all of us as human beings have a special need to do something for other people, The Peace Corps is a way for people to grow. When you dedicate two years of your life to the service for the betterment of mankind, you will find yourself immensely wealthy in experiences and full of joy because you know you have made a difference in some place to someone. These kinds of experiences have no price.
The UCSD Peace Corps office will be hosting an open house as part of Peace Corps Week, presented by the Peace Corps and National Peace Corps Association, Sunday March 6, with special guest Gaddi Vasquez, Director of the Peace Corps. He will speak on “Expanding Returned Peace Corps Volunteer possibilities for making a difference in our world.”
The program and reception will start at 2:30 at the International House Great Hall (Pangea Drive off N. Torrey Pines Road.), University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037-0550. For more information call 800-424-8580 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
PEACE CORPS WEEK: Celebrate a Legacy of Service
For over 42 years, the Peace Corps have served 136 countries by responding to the countries requests for help in empowering people to take charge of their own future. Because Volunteers learn to speak the local language and live as a member of the community, their presence strengthens the bonds of friendship and understating between Americans and people of other countries.
Mission of the Peace Corps
Since its inception the peace Corps has aimed to promote world peace and friendship by:
Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples.
Peace Corps Volunteers commit to 27 months of training and service overseas. Coming from all walks of life. Volunteers range in age from college students to retirees. All bring with them a strong work ethic, a spirit of generosity, and pragmatic problems solving skills. They learn to speak the local language and adapt to the culture and values of the people they serve while sharing their perspective of America. Volunteers return to the United States equipped with valuable real-world skills for future endeavors and the experience of a life time.