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Ohio State No. 13 in Peace Corps volunteers

Courtesy of the Peace Corps

Ohio State has 71 alumni serving as volunteers in the Peace Corps, which is ranked No. 13 of any university in the U.S., according to representatives from the Peace Corps.

OSU is also ranked No. 10 for an all-time producer of alumni volunteers in the program at 1,613.

“OSU’s leadership has given substantial attention and support to promoting international outreach and global citizenship among the student body, so Peace Corps is highlighted as a natural extension for many after graduation,” said Christine Torres, public affairs specialists for the Midwest region of the Peace Corps.

Former President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961 and since then, more than 20,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. The purpose of Peace Corps is to “promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries,” according to its mission statement.

Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Being a volunteer is a 27-month commitment and applicants are encouraged to apply for service one year in advance to their targeted departure date.

The Peace Corps is in need of applicants with backgrounds in agriculture, environment, education, teaching English as a second language and French language skills.

Sandra Goolsby, a fourth-year in psychology and sociology, said she hopes to hear she has been accepted after a recent interview.

“I desire to do something unique, to leave behind change bigger than myself, to see more of the world and to learn first-hand about another culture,” Goolsby said.

Although volunteers for the Peace Corps work on various projects, some aspiring volunteers have specific goals in mind.

“Africa is my preferential placement. I have been volunteering with an AIDS clinic in Clintonville and having studied French both in high school and here at OSU, my recruiter said that I would likely raise AIDS awareness in Africa,” Goolsby said.

As some current students work toward joining the Peace Corps, some alumni are already making a difference.

Judith Bustos, 26, of Bridgeton, N.J., is an OSU alumna who is serving in Paraguay as an education volunteer. Bustos graduated in 2008 with a degree in environmental science and landscape.

“As a volunteer in education and youth development, I work with primary and secondary grade teachers, students and principals to strengthen basic reading, writing and math skills. I also work with students to improve their life skills and community service by working and empowering youth,” Bustos said.

Bustos had her own inspirations for joining the Peace Corps, but said OSU helped prepare her for her service.

“OSU helped me adapt to people of different backgrounds such as ethnicities, religions, race and forms of thought because OSU is so diverse, especially the professors,” Bustos said.

OSU has also helped alumni prepare for the Peace Corps with programs offered on and off campus.

“I went abroad with three different programs at OSU as an undergrad. They also had a program I participated in called English Conversation Partners where I was paired with an international student studying the English language at OSU. We would meet frequently and I was able to gain skills related to teaching ESL, which was my primary assignment in the Philippines,” said Rebecca Ort, 25, who graduated from OSU in 2008 with a degree in business administration and finance.

The Peace Corps has had an OSU office since 1974, and this is what Mark Erbaugh, director of the international program and agricultural office calls “sustainability.”

“For people who think they are interested in working in developing countries, the Peace Corps is a great way to find out,” Erbaugh said.

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