For the second year in a row, IU Bloomington has increased its numbers of Peace Corp volunteers.
According to the Peace Corp’s annual list, IU is ranked 20th among large universities for producing volunteers.
It currently has 36 graduate students enrolled in the program, through the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the School of Education.
Peace Corps volunteers are stationed throughout the world and work on issues such as health, agriculture, environment and education. Most of the students enrolled through the School of Education teach English.
For most volunteers it’s their first experience in teaching. But as IU professor Faridah Pawan explains, they are still asked to take on the class as fully fledged teachers.
“They could be teaching any grade level according to the country’s needs,” Pawan says.
In order to face some of the challenges, the school of education has developed for the first time a fully online program. This allows for students to take their courses while onsite, but also is a means of support when problems arise in their teaching.
Pawan says volunteers know there is a person supporting them on the other side, only an email or a chat away.
“This is the first fully online program for the Peace Corps,” Pawan says, “We developed it to provide embedded and sustained support.”
The school of education has people currently stationed in Mongolia, Kyrgystan, Micronesia and Peru through the Peace Corps Program. Their first graduate, Joan Connors, did not fit the typical profile of a masters student. She came into the program at 60-years-old and graduated at 62. She helped teach English through the help of music.
According to Pawan, when they come back, many volunteers pursue careers in the same field in which they volunteered.