November 18, 2003 - Daily Trojan Online: Peace Corps signing more from USC

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By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 11:43 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps signing more from USC

Peace Corps signing more from USC

Peace Corps signing more from USC

About 500 USC alumni have volunteered for the government program.

Courtesy of Jason Rothbard
Overseas. Jason Rothbard, a graduate student specializing in public administration, volunteered for the Peace Corps.

Contributing Writer

There were no books, pencils or paper when Jason Rothbard taught 8th grade English in Africa for the Peace Corps.

Rothbard, a graduate student majoring in public administration, did not have any teaching experience except for what he learned in his three-month basic training program. The only things he had in the classroom were a piece of chalk, a chalkboard, and teenage boys ready to learn, he said.

"All I had was my own ingenuity and enthusiasm," said Rothbard, who served two years at Eritrea, a country bordering Ethiopia.

The Peace Corps was founded in 1960 when John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country and strive for peace by living and working in a developing country.

Rothbard is one of 506 USC alumni who currently or formerly worked as volunteers for the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps has been signing up more USC students and alumni in the recent couple of years, Rothbard said.

Five years ago, the Peace Corps was registering about 15 students annually, he said. That number has more that doubled with 38 students from USC registering this year for the Peace Corps, according to a November Peace Corps report.

USC volunteers are currently serving in 24 countries all over the world including regions such as Africa, Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia and the Pacific, said Melody Akhavan, a Peace Corps spokeswoman, in an e-mail.

The Peace Corps experience, however, is not for everybody, said Apichai Wongsod Shipper, a political science professor. Shipper had a friend who served in Thailand for the Peace Corps during the early '80s, before the Communist bloc broke up.

He was sent into the areas known to have Communist intransigences, Shipper said. Then he had to send quarterly reports to the government, and he had no control over what happened to the information.

"The Peace Corps is good if you want to work for the government or as a lawyer," Shipper said. However, if one doesn't want those careers they can work for a non-governmental organization and reap the same benefits, he added.

The Peace Corps will keep you well fed, Shipper said, but starving gives you character.

Derek Poulton, a senior majoring in international relations, was going to join the Peace Corps but now is having second thoughts.

"My application is online halfway finished," said Poulton.

Poulton was having problems getting references to contact him back, so he went to talk to Shipper.

"Because it's a U.S. government organization sometimes they use the volunteers as intelligence sources," Poulton said. "I would rather not be a spy for the government."

Now, he plans to look into non-governmental organizations that might allow him to volunteer overseas.

Rothbard said he sent back quarterly reports to the government but did not see a problem with it.

"It's absurd to think they will pay for all of my expenses but not want to know if I'm being successful," Rothbard said. They want to check up and see how things are going for the project, that's all, he added.

The Peace Corps pay for a round-trip ticket, free medical and dental care, a monthly stipend, three months basic language, technical and cultural training, 48 vacation days and gives $6,000 upon completion of service.

"It was an incredible experience," Rothbard said.

Before joining the Peace Corps, Rothbard was working at a biotechnology company, after the Peace Corps experience he went back to school and now specializes in international development.

"You give and you get," added Rothbard. While there, Rothbard's primary project was working as a teacher however he also helped with a variety of secondary projects.

Secondary projects are not required but highly encouraged, Rothbard said. They are based off the need of the community.

For example, one of Rothbard's best students was a 14-year-old boy who came to class often and always sat in the front row. One day, he didn't come to class, Rothbard said.

When the absence turned into a couple of days, Rothbard heard from other students that the young boy was in the hospital. The boy had a cut that was infected and ended up dying in the hospital.

"That doesn't happen in the West," Rothbard said. "People don't die from infected cuts."

As a result, Rothbard started a first aid information clinic as a secondary project.

It was something the community needed, he said. Basic things that one takes for granted in the West, like washing hands before a meal, isn't common knowledge everywhere in the world, he said.

Carol Wise, an international relations professor, agreed that the Peace Corps is a great experience. No former student ever came back without loving the experience, she said.

"It's a great transition from undergraduate into an adult," she said.

Copyright 2003 by the Daily Trojan. All rights reserved.

This article was published in Vol. 150, No. 59 (Tuesday, November 18, 2003), beginning on page 1 and ending on page 6.

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Story Source: Daily Trojan Online

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Journalism; Intelligence Issues



By Anonymous ( on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 12:24 pm: Edit Post

How many RPCVs from California went on to become politicians?

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