Jessica Vandivort and Ammarie Vazquez

Peace Corps recruiter Jessica Vandivort, right, talks to UNL student Ammarie Vazquez at a Peace Corps recruiting event at Old Father Hall on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

People have all sorts of talents and interests. Those skills can be used in many ways in everyday life, but some people use their skills to help those in need and teach said skills to others. 

Individuals with these passions are the driving forces of the United States Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps is a program created by the U.S. government in 1961 that takes students and volunteers to countries in need to assist in developing various infrastructure.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosted a Peace Corps recruiter on Sept. 5, aiming to find students interested in volunteering. Even though the recruiter is no longer on campus, the organization is always in search of volunteers, according to Peace Corps Ambassador and senior biological sciences major Mary Kiscoan.   

Kiscoan has been involved in the Peace Corps for a year and said she joined because the idea of helping people has been instilled in her since she was young.

“I was taught that volunteering is important at a very young age,” Kiscoan said. “I’ve grown up knowing how lucky I am to be born into the life I live. I feel as though every opportunity I’ve been given has equipped me that much more to be the best volunteer I can be.” 

According to Assistant Professor of Practice & Assistant Director of Global Studies Emira Ibrahimpasic, who brings Peace Corps recruiters to UNL, the organization is looking for students interested in public service who are willing to teach language, business management, math and more subjects abroad. 

“They’re looking for diverse majors and specialization among students who would like to take that skill in an international setting,” Ibrahimpasic said. 

In order to successfully accomplish that goal, volunteers are required to stay abroad for two years.

“The Peace Corps prides itself on sending volunteers to communities in need of long-lasting change. Volunteers are required to stay at their service site for two years because it takes time to make an enduring impact on a community.“

While some students might think that staying in a new and unfamiliar place for two years sounds intimidating, Ibrahimpasic said the two years go by in a flash.

“I often tell students that two years is not a very long time in the grand scheme of things,” Ibrahimpasic said. “If you think about it, when again in your life are you going to have two years to go and live and work, learn a foreign language and have this kind of experience again in your life before you have the responsibilities of being an adult?” 

Kiscoan’s advice for students who are thinking about joining the Peace Corps is to talk to a recruiter and do as much research as possible. 

“I would tell someone who is considering joining the Peace Corps to connect with their regional recruiter,” Kiscoan said. “They should also browse the Peace Corps website to get a better idea of specific job requirements.” 

According to Ibrahimpasic, anyone can be involved in the Peace Corps as long as they are willing to work and teach skills to others. 

“I think more than anything, [the Peace Corps is] looking for somebody adventurous,”  Ibrahimpasic said. “I think you have to have a sense of adventure and passion, and you want to be in public service because you will be on the ground for two years, having this sort of unique life experience.” 

Ibrahimpasic and Kiscoan both agree there are many benefits to joining the Peace Corps. Ibrahimpasic said joining the Peace Corps can help with graduate school scholarships and preferential status in hiring for federal jobs, while Kiscoan highlighted the reward of helping others. 

“I think people can benefit from joining the Peace Corps by observing communities transform for the better in front of their eyes,” she said.