Campus Peace Corps representative speaks from experience
Oct. 6, 2006
By Maria Gallucci
Joshua O'Donnell's thirst for international involvement began in childhood, when he lived on a boat for eight years with his mother and stepfather and traveled the Pacific Ocean. After additional worldwide adventures, O'Donnell landed in Athens for graduate studies, and this fall, he became the new campus Peace Corps representative.
O'Donnell, who also lived in Mexico when he was growing up, served in the Republic of Georgia and in Bulgaria as a Peace Corps volunteer between 2001 and 2005. He also taught English in a private language school in Bulgaria for an additional year.
|To learn more|
The next Peace Corps information session will be held Thursday, Oct. 19, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Friends of the Library Room on the third floor of Alden Library.
You can contact Josh O'Donnell at 593-0290 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Oregon graduate taught English to children and worked on community development projects while in Georgia. He helped build a bee and kiwi farm to create revenue for the school while teaching the students about agriculture. And his team obtained a $14,000 grant through humanitarian organization Care International to attempt to rehabilitate the town's water system, which had been unusable since 1989.
"The idea (of the Peace Corps) is to mobilize the community, and get people to think in a more communal way about doing their own development and addressing their own priorities instead of waiting for someone to come in and take care of the problems," he said.
In Bulgaria, O'Donnell lived in a larger town of about 30,000 people and taught English, Italian, literature and history at the high school. He also worked on community development projects, such as painting fences and working on park cleanups.
After he returned to the United States in 2005, he served as a graduate assistant for the International Development Studies program at Ohio University.
As Peace Corps representative, he hopes to educate the Ohio University community about opportunities to volunteer abroad through the Peace Corps. He wants to provide the corps with as many volunteers as possible — especially those with specific skills and those from diverse backgrounds. Teaching English is always a possibility, he said, but he'd like to identify more health workers and agricultural specialists as well.
"We have general information meetings (about the Peace Corps) every month held in the library, and one of my responsibilities is to promote those through talking to classes, information tables, tables at career fairs and volunteer fairs, and hanging up fliers all over campus," O'Donnell said.
At the meetings he will explain the mission and history of the Peace Corps as well as what in-country training is like, what the rigorous application process involves (it can take six to nine months) and what volunteers do in the field. Returned volunteers usually come and share their experiences, which O'Donnell said tend to be very diverse.
Recent Ohio University alumni are currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers around the world in countries including Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, Gambia, Honduras, Micronesia and the Republic of Vanuatu.
Maria Gallucci is a Communications Assistant with the Center for International Studies.