August 4, 2002 - Omaha World-Herald: Recent Immigrants joining the Peace Corps

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By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, August 06, 2002 - 8:57 am: Edit Post

Recent Immigrants joining the Peace Corps


Maggie Koziol will join the Peace Corps in January and head for Central or South America. While she is one of thousands who join the Peace Corps every year there are two aspects of her service that are especially interesting and may be worth investigating for future Peace Corps recruitment efforts.

First, she is an immigrant to the United States. Her parents were political dissidents in Poland, protesting the communist government in the 1970s. After repeated arrests, they moved to the United States in 1978. Last year we published a similar story on Poranee "Pam" Kingpetcharat whose parents had come to the United States from Thailand and who is now working as a community information technology instructor in Guyana. There seems to be a trend for sons and daughters of recent immigrants to make up an increasing percentage of Peace Corps volunteers. Is this true and if so, should the Peace Corps begin focusing more of their recruiting efforts on organizations where recent immigrants can be found?

Secondly, Ms. Koziol got interested in the Peace Corps when she remembered that her high school social studies teacher had served in the Peace Corps. The first generation of PCV's were in large part animated to join the Peace Corps by John F. Kennedy, the new frontier, and the social activism of the 1960's. Many recent volunteers have told us that this vision of the 1960's is as distant from them as FDR, the great depression, and WWII were to the first volunteers and that the primary catalyst for joining the Peace Corps has in many cases been a family friend, a relative, or a teacher somewhere in their past who has told them about the Peace Corps. The third goal isn't just to tell people what it was like to live and serve overseas but what it was like to be a volunteer. We salute the many RPCVs who have gone on to teaching careers who have been prime motivators for the next generation of volunteers and highlight the importance of RPCVs making themselves available to schools and youth groups and especially for your RPCV group to start planning now to participate in Peace Corps day in a local school on March 1.

Read and comment on this story from the Omaha World-Herald on Maggie Koziol and her decision to join the Peace Corps at:

Homeless shelter fading into past*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Homeless shelter fading into past

Aug 4, 2002 - Omaha World-Herald

Now it seems so long ago, the Christmas she spent as a child at an Omaha homeless shelter. Likewise, the time she and her mother and sister lived at the Shelter for Abused Women.

They moved often. When she graduated from Millard South High School in 1997, it was her 12th school.

But now look. Maggie Koziol, 23, has graduated from Tufts University in Boston, where she won expensive scholarships and made the dean's list.

"I don't cry about what happened in the past," said Maggie. "It made me who I am."

Who is she? A confident young woman eager to take on the world. In January she will join the Peace Corps and head for Central or South America.

I wrote about Maggie when she was 16, carrying a 4.0 grade-point average, serving as a student trainer, working at a restaurant, writing for the school newspaper and volunteering in public housing projects.

She's never been afraid of hard work. When working and staying busy is your norm, you rarely get overwhelmed by difficult tasks.

Life hasn't been easy for her. Her parents were political dissidents in Poland, protesting the communist government in the 1970s. After repeated arrests, they moved to the United States in 1978.

Her father began drinking, and the couple eventually divorced.

Growing up, Maggie threw herself into school work and volunteering. As a high school junior, she was the Nebraska winner of the Horatio Alger Association's humanitarian award - honoring students who committed themselves to making a difference in the lives of others.

In college, many of her classmates came from well-to-do families and drove expensive cars. On her dorm steps one night, another student asked about her childhood - and wept when Maggie told her.

Maggie majored in political science and in Russian and Eastern European studies, and worked 20-plus hours per week in the dining hall.

She speaks Polish, and spent her sophomore year studying in Krakow, Poland. In many ways, things had improved there. The hours- long lines to buy bread, which she remembered from a visit when she was 8, were no more. An IMAX theater had opened.

After graduation in 2001, Maggie took a job writing grant applications for the Polish-American Association in Chicago. While there, she decided to confront her past - she looked up her father, whom she hadn't seen in years.

She was afraid the visit would be painful, but it was mostly positive. "I'm sure he loves me very much. He just doesn't know how to show it. But he's my dad. It was nice to see him."

Maggie returned to Omaha last fall. She remembered that her high school social studies teacher, Kristi McGuire, had served in the Peace Corps, and began investigating it.

She applied and was accepted for a 27-month stint. She is prepared for it to be difficult and stressful, but looks forward to the hands-on experience.

Some day she'll attend graduate school, and may work in development and fund-raising.

For now, she works as a waitress at the Happy Hollow Club, a long way from homeless shelters, and contemplates an exciting future.

With a good college education behind her, Maggie knows that gaining knowledge never stops.

"I'm not very old," she said. "I haven't learned a lot."

Click on a link below for more stories on PCOL

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The Case for Peace Corps IndependenceThe Controversy over Lariam
The Peace Corps and Homeland SecurityDirector Vasquez meets with RPCVs
RPCV Congressmen support Peace Corps' autonomyPeace Corps Expansion:  The Numbers Game?
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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Peace Corps - Recruitment; RPCVs - Third Goal



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