UGA and the Peace Corps have launched a new program aimed to prepare students interested in joining the Peace Corps or acquiring the skills and knowledge to have a great global impact.
The new Peace Corps Prep Certificate is designed to prepare undergraduate students for the highly competitive federal program, said Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, who spoke at the certificate launch at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries on March 21.
Hessler-Radelet talked about the unparalleled experience for Peace Corps volunteers. They work in a host country for two years striving at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions to challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development.
“It is transformative for the volunteer and the community where the volunteer serves,” she said.
This certificate program, Hessler-Radelet said, “builds a pipeline to the Peace Corps.”
While the Peace Corps Prep Certificate doesn’t guarantee an applicant a slot in the program, it does guide students through classroom and experiential learning opportunities that prepare them both for serving in the Peace Corps and an international career, Hessler-Radelet said.
Russell Mumper, UGA’s vice provost for academic affairs, said the certificate reinforces the university’s existing commitment to experiential learning and international education.
“We have some of the most community and internationally engaged students,” Mumper said.
UGA currently ranks 24th nationally for Peace Corps volunteers. Twenty-seven alumni are now serving in the Peace Corps. Since President John F. Kenney launched the program in 1961, more than 600 UGA alumni have joined the Peace Corps.
The Peace Corps Prep Certificate Program, which is offered through the university’s Office of International Education, integrates training and coursework designed to equip students with the skills needed to be the most effective volunteer possible. Requirements include 50 hours of field experience in the community; coursework to build foreign language skills, intercultural competence and diversity awareness; and professional leadership development through a variety of workshops and other opportunities.
The intent of the partnership between UGA and the Peace Corps is to promote skills in four key areas identified by the Peace Corps as being essential to future volunteers: foreign language proficiency, intercultural competence, professional savvy and leadership, and other sector-specific skills.
“This program will better prepare students to become global citizens and contribute to our international society,” said Yana Cornish, UGA’s director of education abroad at the Office of International Education.
UGA is one of 53 schools nationwide to partner with the Peace Corps to create such a program.