From staff reports
To commemorate the Peace Corps' 48th anniversary, thousands of current and former volunteers are sharing their personal experiences of living and working in cultures around the globe. Among them are recent Ohio University graduates Clay Martin and Emily Robison, who are serving in Ecuador and Micronesia, respectively.
Peace Corps Week, which runs through Tuesday, March 3, celebrates the organization's service legacy and commitment to promoting peace and friendship around the world.
The observance offers Ohio University students and community members two opportunities to learn about Peace Corps service and hear from returned volunteers, said Athens campus Peace Corps representative Tom Langehaug.
An informational meeting is planned from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday in Baker University Center 235. Earlier in the day, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., an information table will be staffed on the first floor of Baker University Center.
Today, 7,876 Peace Corps volunteers live and work in more than 76 countries in such diverse fields as education, health, information technology, business development, sanitation, the environment and agriculture. The figure includes 34 Ohio University graduates.
More than 6,275 Ohio residents, including 728 Ohio University alumni, have served in the Peace Corps since 1961, when the agency was formed under President John F. Kennedy.
"Peace Corps is a great way for recent graduates to utilize and improve their skills in a developing country," Langehaug said. "They are helping others and at the same time often working at a higher level in terms of responsibility than they would be able to work here in the United States so soon after graduation. This will make them a more competitive candidate for any future endeavor. The language and cultural training and the experience from serving in the Peace Corps are unmatched."
Nationally, applications to serve in the Peace Corps have increased 16 percent this past year, the largest boost in the last five years. Some 334 Ohio residents are serving in the Peace Corps this year, 42 more than last year, giving Ohio the highest overall increase in Peace Corps volunteers among all states.
As a former Peace Corps volunteer in Panama, Langehaug refers to the experience as "the most challenging and gratifying experience of my life."
"For me it helped clarify what is important in my life and how my desires may affect others," he said. "It also gave me the insight of experiencing other cultures and enjoying the differences and commonalities we all share."