News

UM honors 50 years of global service

President Donna E. Shalala tells of her time volunteering in Iran in the 60s to fellow speakers at the 50th Anniversary Celebration if the Peace Corps. Next to her on the panel are former volunteers (left to right), Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams, Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargen, and Educate Tomorrow Founder Virginia Emmons McNaught. Cayla Nimmo//The Miami Hurricane

For some, it is the sense of adventure. For some, it is the desire to serve others. And for some, it is the most memorable part of their lives.

On Wednesday, the University of Miami helped honor the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps’ commitment to creating global citizens and promoting unity across cultures. The event featured a panel discussion with President Donna E. Shalala, Director of the Peace Corps Aaron Williams, Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibarguen and Founder of Educate Tomorrow Virginia Emmons McNaught.

Titled “Honoring Our Past, Inspiring Future Generations,” those on the panel described their personal experiences with the Peace Corps and how it usually inspired them to continue service even at home. The youngest of eight children and from a poor family, McNaught was largely inspired by her Peace Corps experience in Niger, West Africa, to create Educate Tomorrow, a non-profit organization dedicated to end poverty worldwide through education.

According to the panelists, the Peace Corps also helps volunteers learn valuable skills in languages, develop an appreciation for diverse cultures and take on a “can-do” attitude.

But Williams believes that the connections formed while working for the Peace Corps are the most important part of the experience.

“In the 21st century, it is so important to be interconnected,” Williams said. “College graduates should invest in themselves to make a difference. They are natural ambassadors to help young people abroad.”

Started in 1961 by former President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps has now expanded to various countries, from the Caribbean to Asia. Countries invite the Peace Corps to send volunteers to work on development projects for 27 months.

For instance, Shalala spent her two years in Iran, teaching English and gaining insight into the Iranian lifestyle.

Williams worked in the Dominican Republic during the ‘60s. He said it changed the way he looks at the world today.

“I had heard about Kennedy’s speech and thought it would be important to join,” Williams said. “It is a great privilege to return as director.”

Aside from the panel, the UM community and general public could also visit the “Making a Difference” Job Fair. The fair brought various government organizations, such as Planned Parenthood and City Year, to present the available opportunities for those interested in government work.

Students, like junior Saira Sumbal, thought the fair was a great way to build relationships that may help after college.

“Networking lets one to compare and see what one organization offers that the other doesn’t,” Sumbal said.

Others, like senior Andre Heard, were more interested in the Peace Corps discussion.

“Since I am in the middle of the application process, I thought it would be good to listen,” Heard said. “I see the Peace Corps as a first step to a job which allows me to see the world.”

As one of the top producers of Peace Corps volunteers, UM hopes it can continue to inspire more students to follow the panel’s footsteps. Currently, 23 of the university’s alumni serve.

During the discussion, McNaught pointed out only one disadvantage to the Peace Corps.

“It is a travesty that the experience only lasts two years,” she said.

September 7, 2011

Reporters

Alexander Gonzalez

Assistant Editor


2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “UM honors 50 years of global service”

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

University of Miami men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga received a grand jury subpoena for his phon ...

Get ready for an avalanche of University of Miami defensive backs and linemen descending on the Hard ...

The University of Miami football team has another player with a season-ending injury — and this one ...

When UM coach Mark Richt summoned quarterback Malik Rosier into his office last year, a few months a ...

Quarterback Malik Rosier of the No. 8-ranked Miami Hurricanes maintains a solid third place in what ...

From a game simulating how whales navigate to a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, the U showcased some of ...

A new mobile game called Blues and Reds, now available worldwide, aims to help researchers study int ...

A major Lancet Commission report, a three-year project headed by UM’s Professor Felicia Knaul and co ...

With a $6.8 million NIH grant, the UM School of Nursing and Health Studies and FIU Robert Stempel Co ...

A summer 2017 excursion unlike any other united a group of University of Miami students and faculty ...

The Hurricanes will look to slow down an inspired Syracuse team at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday. ...

University of Miami head coach Mark Richt was selected to the 20-member Paul "Bear" Bryant ...

As a Hurricane Club member, you are invited to participate in the 25th Annual University of Miami Ha ...

University of Miami sophomore Bruce Brown Jr. was among 21 players named to the watch list for the 2 ...

Head coach Katie Meier and senior forward/center Erykah Davenport will represent Miami Thursday at t ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.