March 27, 2003: Headlines: Peace Corps Directors - Vasquez: LA Times: Director addresses students at Pomona College

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Director addresses students at Pomona College

Director addresses students at Pomona College

Peace Corps honors college

Organization erects a peace pole on the campus of Pomona College in recognition of commitment to the corps by alumni.

By Danielle Samaniego, Inland Valley Voice

CLAREMONT -- For Mardi Rollow, graduate school was not the best fit.

A 1963 graduate of Pomona College in French literature, Rollow decided to leave higher education and rediscover herself through public service. She joined the Peace Corps, President Kennedy's answer to serving others throughout the world in the name of peace and the United States.

"It was a big thing because it was brand new at the time," Rollow, 61, said. "In one way I think I could say that joining the corps was an escape for me because I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, and on the other I really did like the idea of helping others."

Rollow is among more than 235 Pomona College graduates who have served or are now serving in the Peace Corps, a feat recognized Wednesday by the organization's director, Gaddi Vasquez. The college is among the top 25 schools nationwide in generating volunteers for the program and has been since the corps' inception in 1961.

Vasquez, a former Orange County supervisor, addressed students, faculty and alumni during a campus luncheon. A peace pole was erected in honor of the college's dedication to the public service organization. The pole, which reads "May Peace Prevail On Earth" in four languages, is the first of its kind given by the organization. Mayor Paul Held and other city officials joined in the dedication.

"There are two reasons why people join the corps. One is that they want to make a difference, but it's also the chance to leave a positive legacy of what it means to be an American," Vasquez said. "The corps is one of the unique opportunities we have to put a face on America and all the different colors and ethnicities it represents."

For the most part, students of the liberal arts college are easy to place in the Peace Corps because many of them have studied abroad and know other languages, officials said.

"I think it's a very positive sign and reflects Pomona's commitment to not only develop students as academics but also as people," Pomona College English major Eric Mann, 21, said. He attended the luncheon to learn about the program.

Peace Corps representatives also presented the Pomona College Career Development Office with a plaque for recruiting efforts. Students are usually provided information about Peace Corps service through the office.

Basic service is for 27 months. Volunteers get a stipend equivalent to living costs of their host country peers, and collect a readjustment allowance when they return home of $225 a month for each month of service.

"I'm generally happier when I'm serving someone else so, the Peace Corps is a pretty natural fit," said student Megan Kays, 21, who is in the last stages of the application process. She believes she will most likely be stationed in Africa, an area she became familiar with when she studied there. "My main goal is ... to learn more from them. I feel they have a lot to teach me."

Rollow, a technical writer and Web site designer, attests to the benefits of volunteering for the Peace Corps.

"One of the things that's interesting about living in another country is a person gets to know who they are in terms of their nationality, not only wonderful things about another culture but also things about their own culture," said Rollow, who spent two years in Tunisia teaching English. "It made me understand who I was and appreciate our country."

Vasquez said the Peace Corps is more important than ever during this time of war.

"Volunteers find a reward in helping others and being involved," Vasquez said. "That's basically what the Peace Corps is about, promoting peace."

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at

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

Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers
The Kerry campaign wants the RPCV vote. Read our interview with Dave Magnani, Massachusetts State Senator and Founder of "RPCVs for Kerry," and his answers to our questions about Kerry's plan to triple the size of the Peace Corps, should the next PC Director be an RPCV, and Safety and Security issues. Then read the "RPCVs for Kerry" statement of support and statements by Dr. Robert Pastor, Ambassador Parker Borg, and Paul Oostburg Sanz made at the "RPCVs for Kerry" Press Conference.

RPCV Carl Pope says the key to winning this election is not swaying undecided voters, but persuading those already willing to vote for your candidate to actually go to the polls.

Take our poll and tell us what you are doing to support your candidate.

Finally read our wrap-up of the eight RPCVs in Senate and House races around the country and where the candidates are in their races.

Director Gaddi Vasquez:  The PCOL Interview Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview
PCOL sits down for an extended interview with Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Read the entire interview from start to finish and we promise you will learn something about the Peace Corps you didn't know before.

Plus the debate continues over Safety and Security.
Schwarzenegger praises PC at Convention Schwarzenegger praises PC at Convention
Governor Schwarzenegger praised the Peace Corps at the Republican National Convention: "We're the America that sends out Peace Corps volunteers to teach village children." Schwarzenegger has previously acknowledged his debt to his father-in-law, Peace Corps Founding Director Sargent Shriver, for teaching him "the joy of public service" and Arnold is encouraging volunteerism by creating California Service Corps and tapping his wife, Maria Shriver, to lead it. Leave your comments and who can come up with the best Current Events Funny?
 Peace Corps: One of the Best Faces of America Peace Corps: One of the Best Faces of America
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and can you come up with a Political Funny?

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: LA Times

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