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Mercer has been named a Peace Corps Prep school. Here’s how students can get involved in the program

Mercer University has been chosen as a Peace Corps Prep site. Photo by Wikipedia commons
Mercer University has been chosen as a Peace Corps Prep site. Photo by Wikipedia commons

Mercer University has been chosen as a Peace Corps Prep site, making it the first private institution in Georgia to participate in the program.

The Peace Corps is a post-graduate volunteer program funded by the United States government. Volunteers aid foreign countries in their area of expertise and are given full benefits, room and board and a stipend while serving.

Mercer applied for the program last December, and after a long application process, has been designated as a PC Prep site.  

“It’s something that any university can apply for, but it’s a pretty long process. It’s something that our office led the initiative on, and, of course, with other faculty members who have always had an interest in the program and having participated in (the) Peace Corps, so there’s been a lot of support across campus for it,” said Associate Director of International Programs Liz M. Dille.

Peace Corps Prep sites serve to hone an undergraduate student’s skill in one of six sectors  – education, health, youth in development, agriculture, environment or community economic development. Graduates of the program will have a greater chance of being chosen for the Peace Corps, according to the PC Prep student guide.

“Mercer’s commitment to community, to research and development and to purposefully scaffolding high-impact, engaged learning practices aligns perfectly with the Peace Corps ethos, making the Peace Corps Prep program a natural fit into our curriculum,” Provost David Scott Davis said.

Whichever sector a student chooses to focus on, the program requirements are the same. There are four areas of study within a sector that must be completed in order to graduate from the program.

The training and experience area requires three courses from an approved block and 50 hours of volunteer work. According to the PC Prep student guide, Mercer on Mission counts towards those hours.

 Intercultural competence requires three introspective courses, one of which can be substituted with a “cultural experience” such as studying or volunteering abroad. Courses in this block include Integrative Studies (INT), Africana Studies, Great Books and Communication.

To meet the professional and leadership development standards, students must make a resume for critiquing, attend a workshop or class on interview skills and hold a leadership position within Mercer’s organizations. Those organizations include QuadWorks, Fraternity and Sorority Programs, Minority Mentors, Student Government Association, SHAPE, Residence Life and various academic and athletic groups.

The specific coursework for foreign language varies by region. For Latin America, two 200-level Spanish courses are required. For West Africa, two 200-level French courses are preferred, but any Romance language will meet PC Prep’s standards. These classes can be waived if a student learns the language through another medium.

Students looking to serve outside of those regions do not have any course requirements but are encouraged to study their target language independently.

“It focuses on tailoring already established major coursework toward a focus on intercultural communication, global development and leadership skills, instead of adding additional coursework to our highly-engaged students’ schedules,” Ashley Buchanan, coordinator of Mercer’s Peace Corps Prep program, said.

A launch event will be held on Oct. 18 to raise awareness for the program.

“We’re hoping to have some alumni of the Peace Corps prep there (and) other representatives of Peace Corps available for students to talk to. It’ll be an event for students to network and get a little bit more informal information about the program,” Dille said.

Dille said that they hope to host several events during the day, rounded out by a more formal evening of speeches and horderves.  



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