The Global Service and Peace Corps Preparation Program has been completely revamped for the 2020-2021 school year, making it easier than ever to start your international career. Already a national leader in the number of graduates who serve in the Peace Corps, IU is working to make students as ready as possible to take on the challenges of working abroad.
The 21-credit-hour program has been streamlined and revised, with feedback from students and faculty, so that students from schools across campus can pursue their major while also ensuring that they have the skills and background necessary for service work. Designed to align with what the Peace Corps looks for in applicants, the program requires three things of students: intercultural and international competence, with deep knowledge of a region; language learning; and hands-on experience working with a community.
Working within a specific area like youth, education, or community health, enrolled students take courses across IU, from HLS to the O’Neill School to the School of Public Health. They also participate in service work in Bloomington or elsewhere, which they develop with help from program advisers.
“This is going to give you all the skills that Peace Corps wants in an applicant,” said Teresa Nicholas, coordinator of the program.
While it is a unique and challenging time to work in global service, students interested in serving can use their time in Bloomington to build the kinds of skills needed to work around the world. Nichols pointed to Volunteers in Tutoring Adult Learners (VITAL) at the Monroe County Public Library as an opportunity for students to gain experience in education and community development.
Working in this kind of setting, Nichols said, can give students “a sense of what it means to work with an under-resourced community, [and] how to support them.”
The program ends with a one-credit capstone class, in which students reflect on their coursework, volunteer service, and entire time at IU so that they can synthesize what they’ve learned and be prepared to discuss their future as a global service professional when they apply for positions.
Working in the Peace Corps or another service organization is only the beginning for graduates of this program. The Peace Corps has a large and diverse alumni network that can help those back in the US find positions that align with their goals and skills. Being flexible, open-minded, curious, and empathetic are just a few skills that Peace Corps volunteers develop. Nichols mentioned an alum who worked abroad in community health and now works with the HIV+ community in Milwaukee as just one career trajectory for someone interested in service work. Working in the federal government or in local non-profits are also common paths.
Students who wish to learn more should register for the public virtual info session scheduled for noon on October 6th, which will be recorded and put on social media. They can also contact Nichols at the HLS open house on October 5th, or shoot her an email at email@example.com for a 1-on-1 advising session. A simple application due November 1st is required to enroll in the program.
This global service program, which includes the Peace Corps and other forms of service, dovetails with other Hamilton Lugar School programs designed to give students all the tools they need to launch their international careers, including the Global Students and Professionals Program and a bevy of career courses in the fall small session from November 30 to December 14.
This year is different than others, but it is teaching us to discover how to address international issues locally. “It’s really powerful to address [transnational problems] in your local communities,” said Nichols.
In this work, “you have to learn to be really flexible and to just try to be really open and honest and communicative,” she added. And right now is “a really great moment to practice those skills and to both lead with empathy and to give a lot of empathy to other people.”