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After fanfare, officials design new University-Peace Corps program

BY VERONICA MENALDI
Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 25, 2010

“We have had as many as 15 to 20 students inquire about the program so far.”

He added that there is a “long window” before the school can fully evaluate the effectiveness of the four-year program since the first set of students will be coming in fall 2011.

Educational Studies Program Chair Addison Stone said the specifics of the program in regards to the School of Education are still a “work in progress,” including the details of maintaining contact with the students once they are abroad.

He said the general set-up of the program is similar to that of other schools, with the student spending at least one semester at the University before going overseas for his or her Peace Corps work.

Stone said the idea behind students spending time at the University both before leaving and after they return is to “deepen understanding of educational issues” not only for themselves but for the master’s students who aren’t involved in the program.

Stone said half of the Education School students participating in the Peace Corps are involved in second language instruction while the other half is involved primarily in math and science instruction.

Stone said he hopes having a Master’s International program will help the School of Education establish a relationship with the Peace Corps.

“We of course have had some Peace Corps veterans apply to our school but they are few and far between,” Stone said.

Social Work graduate student Tim Polakowski said it’s a “great opportunity” for interested students.

“One of the benefits of the program is that before it (the experience), a lot of people who are doing the Peace Corps or who want to are afraid to do it because they don’t see what to do with their Peace Corps experience afterwards and how it ties into an academic program,” Polakowski said.

Carrie Rheingans, dual master’s student in the schools of Public Health and Social Work, said she would have applied for the program had it existed when she was applying for graduate school.

She said it’s “really exciting” that a Peace Corps experience could be combined with an academic program.

The only critiques she has of the program are the amount of credits given for the two years of overseas work and, since the program is roughly four years, she suspects returning students may feel disconnected.

“Being here for three years, I know what it’s like to not be around the people I started with,” Rheingans said. “I feel disconnected and people who do the Peace Corps in the middle for two years will feel that when they come back.”


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