Peace Corp visits BVU

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Most people have heard of the Peace Corps, at the very least in pop culture references or mentioned in passing online, but there is a lot to the organization that endeavors to promote world peace and friendship, according to their website. Peace Corps recruiter Ryan Cairns was at the Buena Vista University Campus on April 4th to talk to students who wanted to know more about the program. Iowa is Cairnsí region, heís originally from Iowa and served as a volunteer in the Peace Corps, in Bulgaria, for two years.

Two years is the standard term of service, but people can continue if they choose. Cairns presented on the unique experiences related to the service minded organization.

Cairnís detailed that there are several areas that people can focus in when they sign up for the Corps. Cairnís had already had experience abroad, having served in the military for six years, after which he stumbled across the Peace Corps and thought this might be a good opportunity for further personal development. His background in business helped him to determine which of the six program sectors that he wanted to volunteer in; education, health, environment, youth development, business development and agriculture. His business development was put to work in Bulgaria, first in Sofia, for training, where he learned the language and culture in a three-month crash course and then was sworn in and stationed in Pleven.

Cairns found that there was so much more to the Peace Corps than just volunteering and that just because he was working for business development, didnít mean that he wouldnít have opportunities outside of his niche. While working with kids was not his goal, he did end up organizing a youth football team in the area and networked with other volunteers in the country to create a league for the kids between towns. Another big take away from the program was self-sufficiency. His time in Bulgaria really gave him a first-hand view of a people who rely almost exclusively on themselves and their community for their daily needs, like wise their rituals and traditions, though different from what Cairns had experienced were a unique window in what made people there who they were. All of this gives the volunteers invaluable life experience.

Cairnís also invited Vice President of Enrollment, Mike Frantz to talk about what parent concerns might be as his daughter is currently serving in the Corps in Armenia. Frantz talked about the fears he had sending his daughter to the other side of the world but said that the Peace Corps has gone out of the way to insure their volunteerís safety by having security officers that volunteers have to check in with from time to time to make sure everything is working well. They also inspect the apartments to make sure everything is safe for the volunteers coming in. Frantz feels that the Peace Corps is making his daughter a woman of the world and he couldnít be prouder of her development while in the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps was originally founded in by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The idea was to help people in countries abroad with economic and social development. In the years since its initial inception the Peace Corps is now involved in more than 140 countries with more than 220,000 volunteers and alumni, who have been taking on some of the most pressing global issues posed, such as fighting HIV/AIDS, hunger, protecting the environment, and improving technology in developing countries. For those interested in further information you can go to www.peacecorps.gov.