When Zoe Mowl (SFS ’15) graduated, she did not join the 42 percent of her graduating class that went into consulting or financial services. Instead, she went to Junik, Kosovo to teach English to elementary school children through the Peace Corps.
Mowl, who is in her second year in Kosovo, is one of 31 alumni currently serving communities around the world in countries including Botswana, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Rwanda and Thailand through the federal volunteer program. These participants work in fields of education, health, agriculture, environment, youth development and economic development.
The 31 alumni currently in the Peace Corps are just a small fraction of a long history of Georgetown graduates’ involvement in the service. Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, Georgetown has produced 957 of its 225,000 volunteers. On Feb. 28, the Peace Corps ranked Georgetown seventh on its list of top volunteer-producing colleges of medium size, its 11th year in a row in the top 10 ranking.
Georgetown’s ranking is one component of its relationship with the Peace Corps. Last summer, the Peace Corps teamed up with the McDonough School of Business to create the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, which offers scholarships to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to attend graduate school.
Emily Webb, a public affairs specialist for the Peace Corps, said Georgetown plays an important role in the success of the organization.
“The Peace Corps thrives on a volunteer force that represents the best and the brightest our country has to offer, so we hope that Georgetown graduates can help to fortify that legacy for years to come,” Webb said.
Mowl said her commitment to service comes in part from the values she learned at Georgetown, specifically the Jesuit objective of being “women and men for others.”
“They influenced me through the Jesuit identity,” Mowl said. “They really drill in that those who have a lot should be giving back. They just make it clear that they expect this out of their students, that we will contribute to the greater good. Their identity pushes it towards students, and probably because they attract those students to begin with.”
Before her participation in the Peace Corps, Mowl was introduced to international service through several programs at Georgetown. She went to Ghana with the Summer Impacts Fellowship through the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation in her sophomore year, and spent two years working for the Center for Social Justice.
Elyssa Skeirik (SFS ’15) also joined the Peace Corps after graduation. Currently stationed in East Java, Indonesia, Skeirik works as a high school English teacher.
“Peace Corps is also an unmatched experience in terms of opportunities for cultural integration and technical training,” Skeirik wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Skeirik had served abroad before joining the Peace Corps. In the spring of 2014, she studied in Amman, Jordan, and taught Syrian refugees. After receiving grants from Georgetown’s Social Innovation and Public Service Fund and the School of Foreign Service, she continued that project through the summer.
Sheirik said her Georgetown education motivated her involvement in the Peace Corps.
“My Georgetown education taught me how to combine critical thinking with an open mind. Inside and outside the classroom I was confronted with new ideas and different cultures that challenged my conception of reality and broadened my worldview,” Skeirik wrote in an email to The Hoya.
An additional responsibility of a Peace Corps volunteer involves acting as an ambassador for the United States. Skeirik, who served as the vice president of the College Democrats while attending Georgetown, acknowledged the added struggle of representing the United States in the current political climate following President Donald Trump’s November victory.
“People here have a lot of questions and fears about what the Trump administration means for world politics, Indonesian-American relations, and particularly Muslim people – and I don’t know the right answers,” Skeirik wrote. “It sometimes feels like the US of today is a different place than the US I left a year ago, but ultimately my job is to represent the American people and I don’t think they have changed.”
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