Oberlin Ranks Third in Peace Corp Volunteers

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Although Oberlin has historically been well-represented in terms of number of alumni who become Peace Corps volunteers, this year the college placed third on the Peace Corps’s top list of small colleges and universities producing volunteers nationwide, with 24 alumni currently serving. This marks a significant increase from 2011’s No. 18 ranking.

“I think Oberlin students like to be challenged and I think that [the] Peace Corps is one way to be challenged professionally as well as personally,” said Peace Corps Regional Recruiter Annabel Khouri. “And I also feel that the culture at Oberlin is one in which students are really concerned about issues beyond our borders, and I think the Peace Corps offers them an opportunity to make an impact and be part of identifying solutions to global issues.”

In fact, since the Peace Corps’s founding in 1961, 530 alumni from Oberlin have served in Peace Corps.

For Samantha Kyrkostas, OC ’07, who served in Ukraine as an English Teaching Volunteer from 2009 to 2011, serving as a member of the Peace Corps allowed her the chance to expand upon skills she learned while at Oberlin.

“As an Oberlin athlete, I gained a deep sense of teamwork and commitment to a cause,” said Kyrkostas in her Peace Corps Volunteer profile. “I was continually inspired by the commitment of my fellow teammates to our individual and team successes. I learned how to be committed to achieving my own aspirations without forgetting our shared goals. I was able to be a leader of my Peace Corps group in Ukraine, without forgetting my own personal goals for service.”

Khouri will be holding an information session on March 1 in King 101 from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. to answer questions about the application process and about where and how volunteers serve. She will also include stories of her volunteer experiences and those of other Oberlin community members.

“This is a great opportunity to learn more about what it’s like to be a Peace Corps volunteer overseas and it’s a good opportunity to get questions answered that you might have by talking with people who have actually served,” said Khouri. According to Richard Berman, Director of Career Services, it is important for interested students to start thinking about applying for the Peace Corps far in advance.

“Start early,” said Berman in an email to the Review. “The Peace Corps selection process is thorough and takes considerable time. Connect with alumni, faculty and staff that have Corps background and experiences; closely [consider] whether or not a two-year commitment in a culture that isn’t yours will fit with your own values and personal expectations … Work on your self-presentation skills; the Peace Corps places a premium on authentic voices and genuineness of its candidates.”

The Peace Corps is currently looking for students with a background and interest in Health and HIV/AIDS, Education, Youth Outreach and Community Development, Business Development, Environment and Agriculture. Interested students are also encouraged to stop by the Office of Career Services on March 1 from 11am to 1pm to meet with Khouri.