by Celina Dietzel
After climbing out of a ditch full of rainwater, Knox alumna Joyce Tichler Hall '11 surprised herself by laughing. It had been a tough day as a teacher at her school in Cameroon, and all she had wanted was to head home when a heavy rainstorm interrupted her walk.
It was in this moment, standing on the side of the road in soaking wet clothes, that she realized the scope of both difficulty and possibility her service would provide.
"It's not supposed to be easy," Hall said. "You're going to make mistakes and laugh at yourself."
Hall and Samantha Claypool Temple '11 are two former Peace Corps volunteers who shared their experiences during the session "Voices of the Peace Corps" at Knox's annual Work that Matters Conference.
The goal of the conference is to introduce students to ways they can make a difference in their communities after Knox. Alumni and professionals spoke about the Peace Corps, KnoxCorps, City Year, and other service-oriented organizations.
Temple served in Tanzania, and although her experience varied greatly from Hall's, both described the importance of finding community support during their time abroad.
"Once you take the time to understand [the people], you realize you have a lot more in common than not," said Temple.
José Guevara '17, a current student and accepted Peace Corps volunteer, spoke about his motivations for joining the program and how the application process works. Guevara will be serving as a youth development volunteer in the Dominican Republic beginning in August.
Jeff Leon '19, who attended the session, is in Knox's Peace Corps Preparatory Program. The program was the first in the nation to be officially endorsed by the Peace Corps and includes coursework and experiential learning that helps students fulfill requirements in all six Peace Corps sectors: education, health, environment, agriculture, youth in development, and community economic development.
Leon plans to apply to be a volunteer in either the youth development or health sector. He enjoyed hearing Hall's and Temple's stories and is looking forward to understanding new cultures.
"I want to be on the other side of it, teaching, but also learning," he said.
In the conference's opening session "Engagement, Advocacy and Outreach," representatives spoke about Scholars at Risk and service learning in the midst of increasing nationalism. Karrie Heartlein and Keegan Dohm '16 also spoke about KnoxCorps and the AmeriCorps VISTA program.
The final session, "Meaningful Service," gave students the opportunity to learn more about fellowships, internships, and civil and foreign service career opportunities from a panel of professionals.
Pictured Above: Joyce Tichler Hall '11 in Cameroon. Pictured below, from left: Hall, José Guevara '17 and Samantha Claypool Temple '11.