CSU works towards peace

Feb 122008
Authors: Calvin Setar

When last tallied in 2006, CSU was ranked 12th among the nation’s large accredited universities in the number of volunteers currently serving in the Peace Corps, according to a Peace Corps report.

Since the Peace Corps’ inception in 1961, 1,365 of the 187,000 volunteers from all over the US graduated from CSU.

Today, CSU claims 57 active alumni in various countries across the world.

“It’s so great, but its been getting even better,” said Tami Wolff, CSU’s Peace Corps recruiter. “Since September of last year up to the end of January this year, we’ve had 34 CSU students be nominated to the Peace Corps.”

Among them is senior engineering major Adam Kremers.

He will leave in mid-September to practice environmental water resource engineering somewhere in Latin America.

“I really just want to give myself a new challenge,” he said. “I want to see the world, learn a new language, try living in a small close knit community and just be totally immersed in another country and culture.”

CSU is also home to many faculty members and employees who are alumni of the program.

Among them is Karen Gardenier, International Studies Program coordinator, who spent her time from 2002 to 2004 living in the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia.

“The Peace Corps isn’t always easy, but it’s extremely fulfilling,” she said. “I definitely got a lot out of it.”

Gardenier worked in a regional university teaching English as a second language, while she was learning to speak Russian.

“There are two really great things about the Peace Corps,” she said. “One is the relationships you build both with the countries nationals and other Peace Corps members, and the other is that it is the best way to understand the development of a country and how to integrate into a different society.”

Wolff is a former Peace Corps volunteer and CSU graduate as well.

She and her husband spent two years from 1998 to 2000 working as English and science teachers respectively for a junior high school in the Solomon Islands.

“When the Peace Corps sends qualified volunteers out into the world, they are sent with three main goals,” she said. “To help the people of countries interested in help, to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.”

The application process is extensive, Wolff said, and requires an average of six to nine months to be fully processed.

Once the volunteer is accepted into the program, they’re invited to serve in a number of areas.

“They can serve in agriculture, business, environmental issues, community and/or youth development, education, political science, and health and nutrition,” Wolff said.

The programs of focus tend not to change, however the areas of the world that the Peace Corps sends volunteers to is constantly fluctuating due to changing cultural trends.

In the early 60’s CSU professor Maury Albertson was head of the US Congressional study on the Point 4 Youth Corps.

Albertson, along with a few colleagues, put his findings into a book, “New Frontiers for American Youth – Perspective on the Peace Corps”.

Employing this information JFK was able to put into action his plan for the creation of the program.

CSUs high ranking is indicative of the continued entwinement of the organizations future with the students and faculty here, Wolff said.

“I attribute it to CSUs students and alumni’s dedication to service,” Wolff said. “I’ve interviewed all kinds of students whose eventual job paths vary immensely, but they all seem to share a passion to serve not only our country but to help developing countries as well.”

For those interested in the Peace Corps, National Peace Corps week is coming at the end of the month. CSU will be hosting speeches and meetings from Monday, February 25 to Friday, February 29, including a speech by Jody Olsen, deputy director of the US Peace Corps on Thursday from 12 to 1 p.m. For information about joining the Peace Corps contact Tami Wolff by phone at (970) 491-7706.

Staff writer Calvin Setar can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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