Flyer for “Black Americans in Peace Corps” webinar.” Photo courtesy FAMU Career and Professional Development Center

When you think of the Peace Corps, most students at FAMU think of traveling to a third-world country, volunteering their services and changing the lives of individuals. That vision is true, but there’s so much more to this organization.

On Wednesday, the Peace Corps hosted a webinar called “Black American Experiences in Peace Corps” where Black students and alumni shared their experience with the Peace Corps.

The panelists included Chris Lins, recruiter for FAMU, Dani Arnwine, recruiter for FSU, Kyria Louis, Umelo Ugwoaba and Rosey Brown.

Each panelist shared their experiences of being abroad and what made them want to join the Peace Corps.

Ugwoaba, a third-year clinical psychology student, said he wanted to gain more worldly lessons in his field.

“I want to be able to help people of different cultures and creeds so I felt like joining the Peace Corps would help me achieve just that,” Ugwoaba said. “I gained a different perspective on how health is perceived on a global scale.”

Ugwoaba says serving in Indonesia made him want to travel more.

The discussion topics included recruitment, preparation, location placement and roles they took on, most of them being teaching positions.

Arnwine, a recruiter for FSU, was placed in Malawi, or the “warm heart of Africa,” for three years. While there she lived with a host family and taught math and English.

“This program really helped me discover if I wanted to be a teacher or not,” Arnwine said. “It also opened my eyes to a lot of wonderful people outside the U.S.”

One of the audience members asked a prime question: “Were any of you discriminated against or made uncomfortable by the people?” Most of the panelists agreed there were instances they felt unwanted, but there were people, including their host families, that made them feel welcomed.

“Because I was in South Africa, they thought I was considered a ‘colored’ person, which is a person of mixed African ancestry until I opened my mouth,” Brown said. “Then they knew I was American, but my host family always made me feel at home and a part of the environment.”

Prospects are usually given their assignments months in advance to prepare for the job and country they’ll be assigned to. Also, volunteers are given multiple options to choose from when picking a country to serve.

Lins, the recruiter for FAMU, said many of the recruits did not want to return to the states after their time was finished.

“You know I always tell them; the U.S. will be here when you return,” Lins said. “So, if you want to continue where you are, I say go for it.”


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