June 22, 2003 - Northwstern University: Erin McHenry was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya from 1995-1997

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kenya: The Peace Corps in Kenya: June 22, 2003 - Northwstern University: Erin McHenry was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya from 1995-1997

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, June 22, 2003 - 10:25 am: Edit Post

Erin McHenry was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya from 1995-1997

Erin McHenry was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya from 1995-1997

Erin McHenry, Recruitment Representative, Peace Corps

Biographical Information

I have a BA in Secondary Education in English and Spanish from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) and am currently a Recruitment Representative for the Peace Corps at the Chicago office. I have always been interested in understanding how the world works outside of the US. My knowledge of life outside of the US was based on books, classes or quick trips, and this limited perspective was not satisfying to me. I also felt an appreciation for the life I have had and wanted to try to share some of my skills with those who wanted them. The Peace Corps gave me an

opportunity to live within a community that requested a volunteer and without any cost to me, thus, giving me the culture and language enhancement while working for people who wanted my skills.

Job Summary

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya from 1995-1997. My primary job there was the Head of the English Department in a Kenyan public high school. I also coached the girls' volleyball team, worked with my community and school to get funding and create a library, and helped on other secondary projects such as a small business development effort.

The Peace Corps provides your transportation to and from the country and offers 48 days of vacation as a volunteer. The Peace Corps has many different job opportunities in over 80 countries. Volunteers serve for 27 months in positions for business, education, agriculture, health and the environment. Applicants can qualify for these programs with either a degree in one of those fields or a non-related degree with some specific work or volunteer experience that would benefit the country that requested you. French or Spanish can help applicants for some competitive programs, but the key ingredients that can help anyone looking into the Peace Corps or international work are patience, self-motivation and cultural sensitivity.

Career Plans

My job in Kenya, as well as for most volunteers, provided me with opportunities for leadership and management positions in the US that I would not have had just out of college. The Peace Corps offers a great 3 month training program in language, cross-cultural and technical skills that have proven very useful on my resume. But aside from the benefits I obtained from my experience, I hope to use my Peace Corps experience to work overseas again in the future.


1) Apply early. For instance, if you want to do a Business program but you have a Biology degree, consult with a recruiter or research on the website to learn how you can qualify for a program. To become more competitive, applicants should try to get involved in campus or community activities that could apply to what they want to do in the Peace Corps. These activities could be Habitat for Humanity, tutoring, acting as the treasurer or leader of an organization, working in a nursery or gardening as well as taking French or Spanish.

2) The most successful volunteers I have met were self-motivated, culturally sensitive, patient and open-minded. I have seen volunteers go into the Peace Corps with very specific ideas of what will be waiting for them and the idea that they are going overseas to show people how to do something the right way. Those volunteers tended to get frustrated. Do a lot of listening and observing before acting. Volunteers who go overseas to both learn about the culture and share their skills and ideas will be well-received. They will also probably feel more of a part of the community rather than just a visitor.

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Story Source: Northwstern University

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kenya; Recruitment



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