From the markets of Marrakech, Morocco to the Šar Mountains of Kosovo and the sunny Pacific shores of Fiji, Peace Corps volunteers travel to and immerse themselves completely in countries around the world while providing aid in whatever way they can. Now, undergraduate students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have the chance to do the same through a new Peace Corps Prep program.
The program intertwines student’s coursework with hands-on experiences to provide students the opportunity to develop skills to be a Peace Corps volunteer.
Any student who participates is guaranteed a scholarship up to $5,000 to study in a country where the Peace Corps has served. The application for students to apply is due October 15 to start in Spring 2022 and March 11 to start in Summer or Fall of 2022.
According to the Peace Corps Prep student guide, there are four main components to the program: training and experience in a specific work sector, foreign language skills, intercultural competence and professional and leadership development. The guide says that the program “will prepare you for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service.”
Any undergraduate student who is in academic good standing and has at least two full semesters left can apply, according to Rebecca Baskerville, associate director of experiential and global learning.
“Through the Peace Corps Prep program at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, students can develop the transferable skills necessary to influence change, advance global equity, and be an effective Peace Corps volunteer,” Carol Spahn, acting director of the Peace Corps, said in a Peace Corps’ press release.
Baskerville volunteered in the Peace Corps from 2008 to 2010 in Morocco. She said that bringing the Peace Corps Prep program to UNL has been something the Education Abroad program has been looking to add for awhile.
“We wanted to have new ways that students can engage with global learning without necessarily having to travel abroad,” she said.
Baskerville said the Peace Corps reached out sometime in Fall 2020, and it was decided that the program would be a good fit for the institutional and global strategies that were being developed for the university.
To complete the training and experience in a specific work sector, students take three courses within the sector they potentially plan to pursue as a career, including education, health, environment, agriculture, youth in development, or community economic development, Baskerville said. Then, students work or volunteer in that same sector, developing themselves academically and professionally, she said.
Students will also take courses focusing on intercultural competence, similar to ACE 9 classes, according to the student guide. In some cases, students will be required to take French or Spanish while others may be able to opt out or test out, Baskerville said.
For the application, students map out how they would plan to meet the requirements of the program, Baskerville said. Then, students write a brief statement of purpose about why they are interested and how the program relates to things students hope to achieve in their career, she said.
The program will give students a chance to gain experience if they would like to apply as a volunteer after college, Baskerville said. The goal of the program aligns with the goal of UNL to promote diversity and inclusion, she said.
“Having this program will also help raise awareness on campus of Peace Corps service as a fulfilling, impactful post-graduation experience,” Baskerville said in the press release.