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The Peace Corps provides experiences abroad

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Brendan Canvanagh, regional Peace Corps recruiter, presents photo album to students Oct. 2.
Brendan Canvanagh, regional Peace Corps recruiter, presents photo album to students Oct. 2.
Photo By Lilith Osburn-Cole

Traveling abroad can seem unattainable, but with proper guidance it it is possible.

Right under students’ noses lies an opportunity to travel abroad. The Peace Corps is an option that allows students to travel abroad and engage on a grassroots level with other cultures.

The Peace Corps has been making its appearance known at Texas State by recruiting students and faculty to embark on life changing journeys.

The Peace Corps came to Texas State’s nonprofit and government career fair Oct. 2.

Brendan Cavanagh, regional recruiter for the Peace Corps in Central Texas, has been working with the Peace Corps both abroad and domestically since 1999.

Cavanagh has been the local recruiter for three years and said he has noticed more awareness in regards to the Peace Corps on Texas State’s campus.

“In the beginning, most people hadn’t heard of the Peace Corps,” Cavanagh said. “There are still a lot of misconceptions about it.”

Cavanagh said the presence of the Peace Corps has been more prominent on campus. However, he hopes for students to become more knowledgeable about it.

Cavanagh said the Peace Corps has three main goals: bringing technical assistance to communities served overseas, teaching host cultures about American lifestyles and bringing cultural awareness to Americans about these countries.

Cavanagh said some students are surprised the Peace Corps is a two year commitment. However, the Peace Corps aims to make cultural connections on a grassroots level, which take time to develop.

“We are there to integrate (the Peace Corps) into the community,” Cavanagh said. “ We’re there to build capacity at the local level.”

Within the Texas State community, students have access to first-hand accounts from veterans of humanitarian services abroad.

Cavanagh said over 200 Texas State faculty members are Peace Corps veterans.

Meagan Hoff, veteran and doctoral student, served in the Peace Corps from 2007 to 2009 in Benin, West Africa. She worked in Malanville as an environmental action volunteer.

Hoff worked with the local community to alleviate littering problems as well as educated local schools about the environment.

Hoff also worked on a project to help the local communities harvest and learn how to cook using Moringa trees, which are high in vitamins and proteins.

“The world is not as dangerous as we make it out to be,” Hoff said. “The world seems like a scary place until we get out there.”

Hoff said the Peace Corps has opened up opportunities for her after she retired from her service. She said serving gave her an understanding of different cultures and helped her become more aware of the world around her.

“When I went into the Peace Corps, I went from a very not diverse community to standing out in one,” Hoff said.

Hoff said the Peace Corps was a completely different experience than her previous travels abroad.

“In the Peace Corps, you really get to learn (about) your community and understand people on a much deeper level,” Hoff said.

Carole Martin, French professor, said she believes it is important for students to go abroad in a global world.

Martin is native to France and served in Pondicherry in Southern India, participating in the reforestation of The Sadhana Forest.

She said serving communities abroad is a very enriching experience. She said people should go abroad with the notion they have the ability to serve and build a community.

“Cultural awareness has to do with facing the issues another culture has to deal with,” Martin said.

Serving others abroad gives people an opportunity to contribute to a global community. Whether it be the Peace Corps or other service organizations, students can start their journey to be part of the worldwide community.

If interested in the Peace Corps, contact Brendan Cavanagh at bcavanagh2@peacecorps.gov or visit peacecorps.gov for more information.

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