Peace Corps rates U.Va. No. 1
Grads commitment to service a boon to
By Jane Ford and Lee Graves
Hural has known since high school that he wanted to serve in the
Peace Corps. In June, within weeks of graduating from U.Va., he
begins a two-year stint in Mongolia, teaching English.
this country nestled between Russia and China, Hural will lead
a life that is about as different as it could be from his years
here in the United States, said Hural, an Architecture School
is a country most Westerners know as the home of the 13th-century
conqueror Genghis Khan. Today, the primary occupations are still
nomadic herding and agriculture.
is lured by the challenge.
doesnt know a lot about the area and doesnt speak
the language in fact, he doesnt speak any foreign
took four years of Latin in high school and never had to speak
it, he said. Mongol is not like any language Ive
before. It is a cross between Russian and Chinese.
Since 1961, more than 168,000 volunteers have served in
the Peace Corps.
work in areas such as education, health, HIV/AIDS awareness
and education, information technology, agriculture, business
development and the environment.
must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old.
majority of volunteers over the past 42 years have been
college graduates 86 percent with undergraduate degrees,
12 percent with graduate degrees or having studied on the
is a two-year commitment.
Details about the organization are at www.peacecorps.gov.
is among a growing number of students joining the Peace Corps,
and U.Va. is at the forefront of this trend. The University has
provided the Peace Corps the most volunteers of any mid-size college
or university in the country. Over the years, about 730 U.Va.
grads have gone into the Peace Corps. More than 60 are currently
serving, and another nine are headed into service this summer.
and universities provide most of the volunteers for the Peace
Corps, and that does not go unappreciated.
Peace Corps is proud of the recruitment support it continues to
receive from some of the finest institutions in the country,
said Peace Corps director Gaddi H. Vasquez in announcing the ranking
of U.Va. and other top schools.
Johnston, a Peace Corps spokeswoman in Washington, said the numbers
are increasing for a variety of reasons. President Bush
wanted to double the size of the Peace Corps, and were definitely
seeing an increase over last year. There are a lot of people wanting
to make a difference.
is not always the inspiration. The economy probably plays
a factor, although we can only speculate on these things,
Peace Corps changed its ranking process this year. In the past,
it lumped all colleges and universities together, so that behemoths
such as the University of Wisconsin at Madison, which sent 123
graduates into the Peace Corps, were in the same pool with the
likes of Tufts University, which sent 31.
there are three categories. Wisconsin, with about 41,500 students
leads among large universities. Tufts, with about 8,500 students,
leads among small universities. U.Va. is tops among mid-size schools.
really wasnt fair for U.Va. and others to be competing with
schools with 60,000 students, Johnston said.
the ranking is a feather in the cap for U.Va., its not the
major motivation for students. The challenge, the travel and the
chance to serve are more important.
Andrea Barbery, a chemical engineering graduate, is headed to
Burkina Faso to teach science to high school students.
March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued an Executive
Order creating the Peace Corps. Three days later, Sargent
Shriver was appointed its first director.
courtesy of the Peace Corps
South African nation about the size of Colorado, Burkina Faso
is one of the poorest countries in the world. About 90 percent
of the 12.6 million people survive through subsistence farming.
About half are under the age of 14, slightly more than a third
are literate and only 1 percent are able to attend college.
impact of AIDS on the country is devastating and life expectancy
is about 46 years. It will be a big challenge, said
is headed to Ouagadougou, the capital, with other volunteers assigned
to work in Burkina Faso. The group will begin their trip from
Philadelphia on June 9.
first stop will be in San Francisco for training and to meet with
other volunteers before embarking for Mongolia. Hes eager
to see the annual summer Naadam festival, a competition that dates
back to the 15th century, featuring traditional dress. Armies
of nomads compete in events such as horse racing and ancient archery
and wrestling contests.
upbeat, Hural and Barbery know there will be difficulties. One
will be isolation. Phone calls are extremely expensive, and Barbery
said airmail letters from her region of the world will take one
to two months to arrive at their destinations.
shes determined not to focus on the negatives.
awesome. Im excited, she said. This is a good
opportunity to take advantage of this great program and a great
time in my life to give back.