The Peace Corps announced Tuesday the University of Wisconsin boasted the third highest amount of Peace Corps volunteers for 2013.
According to a statement from the organization, UW currently has 103 alumni volunteering through the Peace Corps overseas. The only two universities with more alumni in the Peace Corps this year are University of Washington and University of Florida, according to the statement.
President John F. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps in 1961 and, since then, it has had strong ties to Madison and the UW campus, public affairs coordinator for the Midwest recruiting officer Jessica Mayle said.
Since the start of the Peace Corps, UW has produced 3,070 Peace Corps volunteers. This catapults UW into the position of producing the all-time highest amount of Peace Corps volunteers, second only to University of California-Berkeley, she said.
“There’s a commitment to service you see not just in the students, but in the community,” Mayle said. “People are committed to making a difference and the Peace Corps accomplishes that.”
Mayle said joining the Peace Corps does not just make a difference overseas but also in the volunteers themselves. She said volunteers get practical benefits and applications, which help them to launch their careers.
When the Peace Corps chooses its volunteers, it looks for people who are committed to service and making a difference. She said they look for people who are flexible, like adventure and are up for a challenge. People who can have fun and a sense of humor even in tough situations make good volunteers, she added.
She also said volunteering through the Peace Corps allows students to plan careers and help people overseas after college.
In 2012, 107 UW alumni served in the Peace Corps, which also placed the university at No. 3. in terms of volunteers produced, Mayle said.
University of Michigan and University of Colorado-Boulder came in at No. 4 and No. 5 as the two universities closest to producing the amount of volunteers UW does. Each of these universities has 93 volunteers serving in the Peace Corps currently.
Mayle said she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Gambia from 2010 to 2012. She said she served as an education volunteer and worked at a middle school. She taught basic computer skills in the school’s computer lab to teachers and students. She also worked in the school’s library and organized book clubs and reading assignments to help the students become literate.
The statement said more than 210,000 volunteers have served in 139 countries since the Peace Corps began. The Peace Corps works on issues including agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth development, the statement said.
Volunteers serve in the Peace Corps for 27 months, the statement said. According to the statement, the goal of the Peace Corps is to “promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries.”