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Luncheon honors returned, newly appointed Peace Corps volunteers

Nov. 18, 1997

Regional director says business students are in high demand

By Jennifer Paschal

Reporter for The Baylor Lariat

The political science department and the Public Service Internship Program sponsored a luncheon Monday afternoon at the Harrington House for all returning and newly appointed Peace Corps volunteers from the Central Texas area.

The Peace Corps program, which is federally funded, sends individuals overseas to live and work for two years. It was established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy and presently has over 6,600 volunteers in over 87 countries around the world. One hundred forty Baylor alumni have served in the Peace Corps and 11 are presently enlisted. In the last fiscal year, Baylor ranked eighth in the Southwest and fourth in Texas for number of alumni serving in the program.

Persons interested in the Peace Corps should apply about one year before they are available to leave the United States. The region chosen for service is determined by one's skills in certain fields, including environment, agriculture, community development, health, business and education. Once placed, individuals are trained for several months in that country's language and culture.

'This year we have the goals of putting a new emphasis on volunteer services and an international aspect,' said Gayle Avant, associate professor of political science. 'Baylor's effort to work more closely with the Peace Corps achieves both of these goals.'

Southwest Regional Director Dr. Morris Baker, who was the luncheon's featured special guest, said he always enjoys coming here to encourage students about the Peace Corps program.

'This year in particular there has been a large request for people with business degrees and in the summer we will be placing about 200 people in this field alone,' he said. 'We definitely want people in the Baylor business school to be aware of this.'

The benefits of the Peace Corps program are not just for the foreign country, Baker said. Individuals will get a 'portfolio of accomplishment as well as a great international experience.' The program also aids in building a resume. Past Peace Corps volunteers include numerous congressmen, CEO's and government officials.

'The Peace Corps serves as one's passport to a great challenge and many people end up staying overseas,' Baker said. 'There are so many multi-nationals who often look to the Peace Corps because they want people who have demonstrated their ability to speak a language and work in a foreign country.'

Kara Wayman, a Battle Creek, Mich., senior, and Mary Patrick, an instructor in Baylor's English as a Second Language international program, are both awaiting their assigned Peace Corps regions for next year.

Wayman, who hopes she is placed somewhere in North Africa, said she is going in order to 'gain a different view of the world.' Patrick said she just hopes to 'make a bit of a difference.'

Lindsay Little, a University of Texas graduate and Waco resident, just found out her assigned region is Tonga, a remote island chain in the South Pacific. She will serve as a youth development officer.

'People's first reaction is that this is so noble of me,' she said. 'But I am really doing it to broaden my horizons and bring back what I learn with me to the U.S.'

Abby Sobel, a Waco resident, served in the Ukraine doing business development for three years.

'Those were the best years of my life,' Sobel said. 'The Peace Corps not only gives you the opportunity to help others, but it also aids you in furthering your career.'

Individuals who are interested in the Peace Corps program can contact the Career Services Center, visit the Peace Corps web site at www.peacecorps.gov or call 1-800-424-8580.

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