This fall students will have the unique opportunity to explore what it means to be a student “for and with others” by applying to Fairfield University’s Peace Corps Prep Program – open to all years and majors. Fairfield is the first Jesuit university to launch this program, and it is made possible due to collaboration between the International Studies Program and the Center for Faith and Public Life. Through this specialized program, students will have the ability to learn about themselves and society on a global scale.
International Studies Associate Director and Co-Director of the Peace Corps Prep Program, Anita Deeg-Carlin said, “Given the campus culture of social engagement, many of our students express interest in pursuing service related work after graduation, including international opportunities. The recent success of our Global Scholars Program in particular has increased interest, specifically in the Peace Corps, and student inquiry led us to explore the Peace Corps Prep Program, which exists at other peer institutions. Fairfield’s core requirements and service opportunities make our graduates well-prepared candidates for international service work who can readily complete the Peace Corps Prep Program requirements.”
Fairfield’s Peace Corps Prep Program is open to all students, and there is no limit on the amount of students who can participate in the program. The Peace Corps is an organization that sends U.S. citizens abroad to serve the world in a positive light and create change amongst different people. It focuses on six different areas of interest including: education, health, environment, agriculture, youth in development and community economic development.
“We are hoping to attract students from diverse backgrounds as well as diverse areas of study,” said Fairfield’s director of Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network, associate director for Center for Faith and Public Life and Peace Corps Prep program co-director, Julie Mughal.
By participating in Fairfield’s Peace Corps Prep Program, students will become better prepared when applying to become Peace Corps Volunteers post graduation. The Peace Corps is a highly selective organization, and holds volunteers to a high academic level and skill competency standard. Because of this diverse and extensive competition, students are encouraged to expose themselves to key courses and hands-on volunteer work that the Peace Corps Prep Program provides.
“The goal is to tap into and better prepare a diverse pool of students who are interested in post-graduation service opportunities. The aim of this unique interdisciplinary opportunity, is to prepare students for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service,” said Mulghal. “This program will enable Fairfield University to reach more students with global opportunities, better prepare students with cultural competency skills and encourage students to explore opportunities in non-traditional destinations.”
Through the Peace Corps Prep Program, students will combine coursework with hands-on experiences. Students will be exposed to a diverse faculty, foreign language skills and cultural awareness. Different required activities will also include resume building, interview preparation and leadership skills. Luckily for most students, this program will not require them to add additional courses to their already substantial course load. Students are required to complete at least three courses that align with one of the six Peace Corps sectors, three “intercultural competence” courses as well as meet a language requirement. With perceptive planning, students can discover overlaps with program requirements and their core courses. There is a Peace Corps Student Prep Student Guide available on the fairfield website which clearly outlines the requirements and lists the eligible courses.
One of the underlying components of the Peace Corps is volunteerism. Thus, through Fairfield’s Peace Corps Prep Program, students must complete 50 hours of field experience in their related Peace Corps sector. Mughal stated an example of one student completing the Peace Education Prep sector in education. She explained that the student could complete 50 hours of field experience through tutoring opportunities – such as the Refugee Mentoring Program that is run on-campus, internships, student teaching opportunities through the educational studies minor or service learning courses in various departments and schools that incorporate practical education methods, to mention a few.
“We are excited to bring this important program to Fairfield University which will enable us to better prepare students who are interested in post-graduation service either in the Peace Corps, or in any number of other programs that requires intercultural competency and skills needed in priority development sectors in host communities,” said Deeg-Carlin.