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Volunteer for peace

By Chantel C. Embers Chronicle Correspondent
On November 21, 2010

In the first Peace Corps presentation to come to PUC, Ellen Nesbitt, a PUC teaching assistant, shared her experience in Kenya as a volunteer to a small selection of students last week during PUC's International Week. She said she was initially inspired to volunteer after learning about the disaster of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.

Shortly thereafter, a recruiter for the Peace Corps came to her campus to talk about their experiences. Unable to leave school during the semester to help clean the aftermath, Nesbitt submitted her application shortly after she graduated in May 2006.

In September, just four months later, Nesbitt was overseas teaching students high school level math and science in Kenya. While briefly reflecting on her experiences there, she described the new and foreign teaching environment.

"Students had to share textbooks and didn't have calculators, and they were really excited when I brought them colored pencils," Nesbitt recalled, adding teaching students in Kenya proved to be no easy task. "Sometimes it was a struggle to get them to pay attention, but if it wasn't for me, they would not have a biology teacher."

Nesbitt had to teach at a second school due to poor building conditions and was eventually forced to end her service 11 months early due to the rising danger in the political climate.

Even though Nesbitt was unable to complete her full term, she still made a lasting impact on her students. While still in Kenya, she worked with other public health volunteers to organize a three-day camp called, Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World). During this time, she spoke to students about gender issues, violence and allotted them the opportunity to be tested for HIV.

Freshman Megan Larson said she was very interested in joining the Peace Corps and had looked into it before coming to the presentation. "I'm more afraid to make the two year time commitment required by the Peace Corps," Larson said. "I'm more than willing to travel abroad."

Katherine Walker, secretary of the International Student and Scholar Office, commented on the growth of our International community, "Every year our events grow and this has been our biggest event yet."

Any student interested in more information about volunteering for the Peace Corps can visit www.peacecorps.gov. For additional opportunities to volunteer overseas, students can visit www.calumet.purdue.edu/intl, or stop by the International Office in CLO 176.


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