JCU Welcomes Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet
On Thursday, October 20, 2016, John Cabot University welcomed Carrie Hessler-Radelet, the 19th Director of the Peace Corps, for an open classroom. Hessler-Radelet spoke to students and faculty, giving an overview of the Peace Corps today and how it works, before sharing stories about its volunteers.
The Peace Corps was created on March 1, 1961, by President John F. Kennedy. At that time, explained Hessler-Radelet, there was a lot diffidence towards Western countries. Therefore, not many countries who had recently attained, or were in the process of attaining independence from Western colonial powers were willing to have young Americans living among them. However, this diffidence was eventually overcome and nowadays the Peace Corps operate in 65 countries.
Hessler-Radelet then explained what being a Peace Corps volunteer is like. Volunteers serve for two years, working as teachers, healthcare workers, and more. “[Volunteers] live in a community as members of the community,” Hessler-Radelet said. The Director also listed the many perks of volunteering for the Peace Corps: the opportunity to have a life-changing experience that leads to personal and professional growth, and a network of support for returning volunteers that includes professional training and scholarships in over 100 universities in the US.
Hessler-Radelet concluded the lecture by sharing stories of Peace Corps volunteers. She told the story of Charlene Espinoza, a Peace Corps volunteer who helped establish Bosh Bosh, a Liberian NGO. As a teacher in Liberia in 2011, Espinoza noticed that many girls did not do well in school because they were overwhelmed by household chores. Therefore, she helped create a sewing club, “The Girls Club,” to raise funds in order to send girls to school. By February 2016, Bosh Bosh opened its first boutique in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city, and used their proceedings to help educate and empower women and girls.