GW service ranks 25th on Peace Corps’ list

GW tied for 25th place on the Peace Corps’ annual list of top universities with volunteers actively serving overseas, according to the list released last week.

Forty of the more than 7,000 people serving in 78 countries around the world are graduates of GW, according to a press release from the Peace Corps. The universities of Arizona and Iowa, American and Rutgers universities also tied for 25th place.

The University of Michigan, which was the site of President John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech that launched the Peace Corps, has been the steady number-one school on the list. This year Michigan had 117 volunteers.

We’re pleased that GW is on the list, said Dana Topousis Peace Corps Public Affairs Specialist. We’re fans.

Topousis said more schools are on the list than ever before, and others have made significant gains in the rankings. She attributed the heightened awareness about the Peace Corps to the increased involvement of GW students and others on campuses nationwide.

More students are getting involved in community service, she said.

(The ranking) reflects the commitment, involvement, experience and dedication that GW students have to service, said Amiko Matsumoto, director of GW’s Office of Community Service.

The Peace Corps’ primary work, ranging from helping to start small businesses to fighting the spread of AIDS, has a foundation in the programs that the Office of Community Service provides, Matsumoto said.

The types of programs we run are applicable to Peace Corps requirements, she said. This is a good place to get involved if people want to join.

As well as its contribution to the Corps, GW is one of only 11 colleges nationwide to offer Peace Corps fellowships to returning volunteers. The fellowship program, started in 1991, is designed to train volunteers to meet the needs and demands of both secondary students and students with diverse learning abilities, according to the press release.

The larger Peace Corps budget passed by the Clinton administration in 1998 allowed for the recruitment of more volunteers and the opportunity for more trips around the globe, Topousis said. The extensive recruitment process draws 97 percent of its volunteers from colleges and universities.

Recruiters go to campuses nationwide, including GW, looking for students who are interested in furthering their volunteer work. Topousis said the Peace Corps’ Web site helps introduce students to different choices after graduation.

Together, these colleges and the Peace Corps share a strong relationship, Peace Corps Director Mark L. Schneider said.

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