The Gustavian Weekly

National Peace Corps Week events aim to attract Gusties

By Christine Peterson Staff Writer | March 7, 2014 | News

Gustavus Alum Sara Scholin shares American Halloween traditions with her students in Macedonia. Submitted

Gustavus Alum Sara Scholin shares American Halloween traditions with her students in Macedonia. Submitted

Gustavus Alum Samantha Maranell ‘10 and Peace Corp Recruiter Erin McGillivray teamed up to host an informational session on the Peace Corps for all Gusties to attend. It took place on Wednesday, Feb. 26 during National Peace Corps Week in order to promote its mission and recruit more Gusties.

Since the advent of the Peace Corps in 1961, 254 Gustavus students have volunteered. Gustavus currently has six graduates involved in the Peace Corps.

McGillivray described the purpose of the Peace Corps for those at the information session as one focused on the Corps’ initial focus on global unity.

“The mission, ever since 1961, when President Kennedy started it, was to promote world peace and friendship and is still the same mission now,” McGillivray said.

All programs require the participant to learn a new language during training for anyone over eighteen and a U.S. citizen. The commitment for the Peace Corps is a 27 month period. This begins with 10-12 weeks of training, followed by about two years of service in over 65 stationed areas.

McGillivray described the wide array of different programs and opportunities volunteers can do in these specific areas.

“We have six main program sectors, but we’ve got over twenty-five programs over all that fall under these six umbrellas,” McGillivray said.

The programs include: education programs in English, Math, and Science teaching, agricultural programs, environment programs, business and IT programs. There are also health extension programs and then community and youth development programs.

Peace Corps location distribution. Submitted

Peace Corps location distribution. Submitted

Director of Vocation and Integrative Learning and Associative Director in the Center for Student Leadership Chris Johnson describes the Peace Corp as a good way for Gusties to overcome difficult questions students struggle with.

“We find that the year of service or gap year experiences like the Peace Corps often are a really important way for people to live . . . after leaving here and also for opportunities or turn out to be opportunities for people to really continue to wrestle with or chew on those questions but in a experiential, get your hands dirty, connect with new cultures, new realities way outside of what you’ve known for four years here on the hill,” Johnson said.

Maranell traveled back to the Gustavus hill to promote the Peace Corps for students. She returned from her trip to Samoa two years ago and touched on some of the harder aspects of the trip.

“You have to say goodbye to those people when you’re there, that was a huge thing. I have to figure out how to say goodbye to these people who were my family and this was my home for two years, and then you get back here and readjusting to American culture is really hard,” Maranell said.

She also elaborated on the many unmatchable benefits of the trip. A participant receives medical and dental coverage, 48 days of vacation time, a living stipend, the experience of international travel, student loan deferment, and all the personal, self-growing benefits. Also, the trip is completely free.

First-Year Karrin Becker attended the Peace Corp session due to her passion for the organization and her plans of being part of it.

“Peace Corps offered me a way to start my career doing something I’m really passionate about. I think breaking down the language barriers that keep people from understanding each other will prevent things like ignorance, apathy, and prejudice from existing between different cultures, and ultimately make for a more peaceful world,” Becker said.

For those interested in promoting a world of peace, contact Erin McGillivray at or Samantha Maranell at