Susan Spano has been published in the AARP magazine. Spano is a PCMI TESOL student, currently studying in Artashat, Ararat Marz, Armenia.
Returned Peace Corps volunteer Adam Garnica recently shared highlights of his two years as an English teacher in Mongolia through the Institute’s Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI) program.
“Summarizing my Peace Corps experience is difficult. I spent two years maintaining my own blog (http://www.2secondstreet.wordpress.com/) to help disseminate my experience, and even then, I find that the stories told there only scratch the surface. My favorite posts include my one on the history of Mongolian script, the story of me getting my first deel, and the list and description of traditional Mongolian dairy treats.
I spent two years teaching at a collection of schools, working with 25 teachers and over 2,000 students to help improve English teaching and language ability. I met a variety of fascinating characters who ended up being teachers: Munkhtuya, a nurse who joined the democracy rallies in Sukhbaatar Square back when the country switched from their communist model, Nergui, who ran a small business and observed the illegal fur trade, and Bujidmaa, a young woman born after the revolution who sees new hope for her country. The students were diverse and unique, full of optimism, anxiety, warmth, and promise for the future.
There were wonderful projects where I met unique people. I traveled to the taiga on the border with Russia, in the middle of a national park, to do health and English workshops with the Tsaatan, or Reindeer People. I participated in the English Language Teacher’s Association of Mongolia’s (ELTAM) annual seminar with one of my co-teachers, presenting a poster on a simulation we did on civilizations. I climbed a mountain with several men to watch the sun rise during the lunar new year. I cut a young girl’s hair to signal the end of her infancy. Along the way there were miners, students, business owners, herders, restauranteurs, and welcoming strangers.
Mongolia is going through unique growing pains, and for two years, I saw the effects. Inflation hurt everyone I saw as the value of money spiraled downward. Alcoholism wandered the streets in broad daylight, or sat motionless by the school’s gates. Wealth flowed into the city, but only to select pockets. Skinheads, businessmen, young families, and environmental protestors in traditional garb flooded the streets of the capital, hoping to shape their nation’s future.
The country is so much more than the conquests of Chinggis Khaan, and I’m glad I got to learn and experience a bit of their culture as they work through this important time in their nation’s history. It helped give me a new perspective on the developing world, politics, nature, and education, and how no matter where you go, people want safe, secure, and meaningful lives.
I’m also happy to be back at MIIS, where I know the students and faculty understand the value of what I was able to experience. It’s also nice to not be cold all the time, but that’s another story for another time!”
With 16 participants currently in service, the Monterey Institute of International Studies ranks fourth for the number of students participating in a Peace Corps Master’s International Program, the Peace Corps announced today.
Sixty‐one graduate schools now offer Peace Corps Master’s International programs. This year’s top five schools* for participation rates are:
1. Michigan Technological University (Houghton, MI) – 37
2. Tulane University (New Orleans, LA) ‐21
3. University of Washington (Seattle, WA) ‐18
5. SIT Graduate Institute, Brattleboro, VT ‐14
Participants in a PCMI program typically finish one year of graduate study in the U.S. before beginning a 27‐month Peace Corps assignment overseas, where they earn additional academic credit for their service. Upon their return, Masters International participants complete any remaining academic degree requirements at their school.
MIIS offers four Peace Corps Master’s International programs: MA International Environmental Policy, MPA International Management, TESOL, and MBA International Business Administration.
“The Master’s International programs provide Peace Corps volunteers unique opportunities to apply the grassroots, hands‐on experience they developed abroad toward a graduate degree,” said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams.
“These programs give returned Peace Corps volunteers the tools they need to succeed in their careers and be leaders in their communities.”
As Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world with 7,671 volunteers serving in 77 host countries. Historically, nearly 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27‐month commitment.
*Note: Based on the number of Masters International participants serving as Peace Corps volunteers overseas as of September 30, 2009.
The Monterey Institute of International Studies ranks fourth for the number of students participating in a Peace Corps Master’s International Program in 2010. The following GSTILE students are among those preparing to continue this tradition of service:
Peace Corps Armenia: Secondary English Education
Enters Service: May 27, 2010
I was very attracted to the Peace Corps, specifically to the Master’s International Program where I was able to combine a graduate degree with Peace Corps Service. With a year spent studying how to teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) I feel much more prepared for my Peace Corps assignment and able to serve as a volunteer.
Peace Corps Malawi: Teacher Development Facilitator
Enters Service July 1, 2010
I am passionate about serving in the Peace Corps not only because I want to broaden my own understanding of other cultures, but also because I want to inspire other Americans to go beyond themselves through service. By combining the Peace Corps with a Master’s Degree in the Peace Corps Master’s International program I have gained the skills, knowledge, and confidence to be the best volunteer I can be.
Peace Corps Nicaragua: Language Teacher and Trainer
Enters Service: August 31st, 2010
Motivation: The Peace Corps Master’s International program is an excellent opportunity for me to serve others around the world using the skills I have and in the career I wish to pursue post graduation. I believe PCMI will be both personally and professionally rewarding and therefore I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect match!
Returned Peace Corps volunteer Ryan Damerow (MA TESOL ’10) recently shared highlights of his two years as an English teacher in China through the Institute’s Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI) program.
Christina Baldarelli is currently serving as a Peace Corps Masters International (PCMI) candidate in Kazakhstan. She recently sent an update back to her colleagues at MIIS along with her thanks for a PCMI care package. She writes,
I have to tell you … having spent two semesters at MIIS prior to joining the Peace Corps has basically made me a rock star over here. I live and work in a small city surrounded by different villages that are home to 8 other volunteers who are first-time teachers right out of various non-education related undergraduate programs. Not a weekend goes by without one of them coming in to the city to talk about lesson plans or vent about administrative frustrations, and I feel so equipped and empowered to listen to them and try to help. Sometimes I get frustrated that I’m not living the typical ‘Peace Corps’ life (i.e. there are BMWs on the streets and all of my students have expensive cell phones, etc), but I feel like some of the best work that I’m doing is actually just helping the other volunteers be more effective, which feels good.
You can read further about her adventures via her personal blog.