Skip to main content
Hero Image Loading

Hannah Gdalman '09

Paul D. Coverdell Fellow, Illinois State University.

Double major in Spanish and Anthropology & Sociology

Hannah's experience studying abroad and participating in the Peace Corps Prep program prepared her for the Peace Corps and grad school.

Hannah was enrolled in the Knox PC Prep program before serving in the Peace Corps in Guatemala

Hannah served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala for two years. After her service, She worked for an education nonprofit in Chicago and a study abroad program in Barcelona. She is now pursuing a master's in sociology at Illinois State University.

Where did you volunteer with the Peace Corps and what did you do?

I served as a youth development volunteer in Guatemala from 2010-12. The youth development program focused on implementing a life skills curriculum in rural middle schools. I was there to help make sure the local Guatemalan teachers could incorporate this curriculum into their classrooms so that the program would remain sustainable without direct help. To emphasize this curriculum, I led teacher workshops and also worked with the students. Since I wanted to focus more on girls’ and women’s development, I also organized a local women’s group and did a few girls’ empowerment camps.

How did the Peace Corps Prep program help you prepare for Peace Corps?

The mixture of the coursework, volunteer work, and study abroad in the program gave me actual experiences to talk about during my Peace Corps interview and to refer back to when I was volunteering. It gave me more confidence going into the Peace Corps application process and even later on while going through Peace Corps training. Having had experience living abroad and speaking Spanish and having taken coursework in anthropological and sociological research methods made my transition to the site much smoother than it would have been without those prior experiences.

What other experiences informed your time in Guatemala?

I studied abroad my junior year with the Knox in Barcelona program. It really helped me prepare for the idea of being at my Peace Corps site for two full years, which I think is something a lot of potential volunteers struggle with. Skills I learned during my Barcelona year—language skills, how to deal with culture shock, how to travel smartly, how to be on my own—all helped me prepare for my time in Guatemala.

Describe a memorable experience you had outside the classroom.

In my senior year, I volunteered with the Carl Sandburg Literacy Coalition. They put me in the ESL division since I had just returned from studying abroad in Spain. I had an adult learner from Mexico who knew very little English. We’d meet weekly at the library for English lessons and he never missed one. I just remember feeling so much responsibility for this man’s success that it made me want to work that much harder and be a better tutor for him.

While at Knox, Hannah was a part of the Knox College Choir. She also served on Mortar Board, tutored for the Center for Teaching and Learning, and worked for the Financial Aid Office.

Share this story

Knox College

Printed on Sunday, April 21, 2024