For the ninth year in a row, Michigan Tech ranks as the number one university in the nation for the number of Peace Corps Master’s International students currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers. MTU has 66 students in the PCMI program and 32 are overseas. It allows Master’s students to earn credit for their work in places like Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. Students assist communities in many sectors including education, agriculture and environmental work.
PCMI Director Kari Hanquinet says the experience these students receive from this program is invaluable.
“Culturally, they’ll learn a new language and how to function in a new environment and so they enjoy that challenge and then when they come out on the job market, they have all those skills and that’s what businesses and the government are looking for these days,” Hanquinet said.
Master’s Student Edrick Ramos told me a little about the work he did in a small community in Guatemala where he was able to help obtain 55 stoves for the people to use for cooking. He also did a lot of work in helping with environmental quality.
“One of the major things I worked with was the environmental education sector so I had the opportunity to work with students in water and trash management before a station and actually, it was a great project,” said Ramos.
Tyler Barton served in El Salvador helping with the preparation and prevention of natural disasters. Barton admitted that the experience was very challenging and he felt like the community gave him more than he could ever give them.
So, how would he recruit those who are interested in joining?
“I don’t know if I would convince them to join as much as let them know what they’re in for because you spend a little over two years in remote areas. A lot of volunteers don’t have running water or electricity. So I’m not sure I would convince them to join as much as let them know what they were in for,” Barton said.
Michigan Tech has eight different PCMI programs and two more under development so there is a wide variety in the areas of involvement. Also, volunteers say one of the reasons they feel the program is so successful is the great involvement and follow-up they receive from their professors and faculty members while they are abroad.
“Very excited to have them all over the world. Working for non-profits, working for corporations and different sectors of the U.S. government. So they’re real leaders in their fields,” Hanquinet said.