December 7, 2004: Headlines: RPCV Local Groups: University of Wisconsin News: Madison spirit drives Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Local RPCV Groups: December 7, 2004: Headlines: RPCV Local Groups: University of Wisconsin News: Madison spirit drives Peace Corps

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Madison spirit drives Peace Corps

Madison spirit drives Peace Corps

Madison spirit drives Peace Corps

Madison spirit drives Peace Corps
(Posted: 12/7/2004)

John Lucas

UW-Madison and the United States Peace Corps have a bond like few other institutions.

Since the inception of the program in 1961, the university trails only the University of California-Berkeley for the historical lead in total alumni volunteers. As of Nov. 30, more than 2,668 alumni from UW-Madison have devoted their time and energy to the cause.

According to figures released in January 2004, UW-Madison led the nation in 2003 with 142 volunteers in the field, topping the nation for 17 consecutive years.

The reasons behind the numbers relate to Madison's civic inclination toward improving the world, says Damian Wampler, a UW-Madison graduate student who serves as the on-campus Peace Corps representative.

"It has everything to do with the atmosphere of the city and the university," says Wampler, who served as a volunteer in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. "Students come here from all over, and they become caught up in the spirit of service. There's always a buzz about the Peace Corps, and this year is no exception."

The Peace Corps is at a 29-year high in the number of Americans serving overseas, with 7,735 volunteers working in diverse fields such as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment and agriculture.

Wampler says he encounters UW-Madison students who have had the idea of volunteering overseas since they were children hearing about the program from a parent or relative. Though many are idealistic, he says he tries to speak honestly about the program and some of its potential hardships.

"I'm pretty nostalgic, but I also try to be realistic about it the Peace Corps is not for everyone," he says. "I loved my experience, but I could understand where people might have a difficult time."

The biggest change in the program in recent years is that volunteers are constantly connected to the Peace Corps office in their country of service to maintain better safety and security. In the early days of the program, volunteers may have been dropped off in a village and had little contact with other Americans for months at a time.

In addition to service in agricultural programs, many UW-Madison volunteers are engaged in teaching English, math and science.

The next Peace Corps information session for the Madison community will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15, in the Media Room of the Red Gym.





When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: University of Wisconsin News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; RPCV Local Groups

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