Peace Corps presents CSUB with new opportunity

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Peace Corps presents CSUB with new opportunity

Vanesa Villa, a Peace Corps volunteer,  showing the audience how to become a part of the Peace Corps on Feb. 7, 2020

Vanesa Villa, a Peace Corps volunteer, showing the audience how to become a part of the Peace Corps on Feb. 7, 2020

Gabriela Reyes

Vanesa Villa, a Peace Corps volunteer, showing the audience how to become a part of the Peace Corps on Feb. 7, 2020

Gabriela Reyes

Gabriela Reyes

Vanesa Villa, a Peace Corps volunteer, showing the audience how to become a part of the Peace Corps on Feb. 7, 2020

Gabriela Reyes, Reporter

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  Diversity recruiters Thomas Padilla and Vanesa Villa from the Peace Corps came to CSU Bakersfield Feb. 7 to give a presentation informing students about their volunteer experience in the program as well as the benefits it offers. 

  Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the United States government. It provides social work abroad in developing countries. The Peace Corps was started in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy and works in 61 different countries around the globe.   

  The speakers mentioned how the program has six different sectors to choose to work such as agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development. The Peace Corps also offers services and benefits for volunteers such as transition funds, graduate school benefits, federal employment, public service loan forgiveness, and an opportunity for professional networking after the completion of the volunteer service.   

   Villa, who volunteered in Ukraine, said that the program helps members in many ways.  

  “It just really sets you up, not only financially… it kind of set all things that were working against me when I graduated college and really provided me the new stepping stones that I needed to be more financially secure and have the employment that I really want,” Villa said.  

  Peace Corps applicants have the opportunity to choose the sector in which they want to volunteer and chose the country in which they would like to do the program, which includes three months of training and two years of service. In addition to the financial benefits the Peace Corps offers, volunteers also get to experience personal growth. 

  Padilla elaborated on how his time in Zambia, Africa helped him grow as person. 

 “During service, I had the opportunity to gain a lot of soft and hard skills as well. The Peace Corps is a very unique experience, especially because you are going to be working in a community for two years… you are going to have to put yourself out there and enhance a lot of skills, public speaking and networking skills…it is important to also reach out to people and foster connections,” Padilla said. 

  The speakers mentioned that they work closely with the citizens to see what the community is interested in learning, as well as creating projects for specific groups, such as special needs kids or the HIV+ community, depending on which sector they are working. 

  “Personal connection to the cause would make the experience easier,” Clarisa Zamora, a freshman student who attended the meeting, said.   

  Applicants must be US citizens and 18 years old or older. Volunteers must also learn the local language of the country where they will be doing their service.  

  The program is highly competitive, but applicants are encouraged to contact recruiters. The recruiters can help applicants build resumes, develop opening statements, and participate in a mock trial.  

  If students are interested, they may refer to the Peace Corps website at www.PeaceCorps.gov to find further information.