November 8, 2004: Headlines: COS - Belize: Davis Enterprise: Brandon Kitagawa in Belize

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Belize: Peace Corps Belize : The Peace Corps in Belize: November 8, 2004: Headlines: COS - Belize: Davis Enterprise: Brandon Kitagawa in Belize

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Monday, November 29, 2004 - 3:56 am: Edit Post

Brandon Kitagawa in Belize

Brandon Kitagawa in Belize

Brandon Kitagawa in Belize

Road to understanding
By Sarah Slakey/Enterprise correspondent

Davis is full of world-class people, including four UC Davis graduate students - Sean Smukler, Brandon Kitagawa, David Rosenberg and Jules Keane - who volunteered their time in the Peace Corps.

"I joined the Peace Corps because I was pretty sold on their mission," said Smukler, a Peace Corps volunteer between 1997 and 1999. "I wanted to help a community with new ideas and energy, and to experience another culture by living in a community and speaking their language. There's no other volunteer organization that's quite like it."

Since the Peace Corps began under the Kennedy administration in 1961, some 1,170 UCD graduates have served the two-year commitment in a foreign country.

In 2000, UCD Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef formalized an agreement with the Peace Corps to create four new master's degrees in international programs. In the new programs, Peace Corps volunteers may choose to study horticulture and agronomy, soil science, plant biology or preventive veterinary medicine, get two years of field experience in the Peace Corps, then return to finish their degree for a final quarter.

Last year alone, more than 55 UCD graduates became Peace Corps volunteers, making it the 20th most volunteer-producing university in the nation. This year there are 46 former Aggies serving abroad.


Scuba diving in Belize

Kitagawa has a smile on his face as he flips through his photo album filled with pictures of Mayan ruins, crystal clear beaches and beautiful sunsets, and reminisces about his two year adventure in Belize, Central America.

Kitagawa, a UCD graduate student, said his Peace Corps experience was much different than he anticipated. His job consisted of being a marine researcher, for which he had no previous experience or education, and an educator for a summer youth program.

"I basically got to sail, snorkel and scuba dive all day, so I can't complain too much," he said with a chuckle.

He lived on a small island called San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. The island is a popular tourist destination for American travelers and therefore heavily influenced by American culture. Although, many join the Peace Corps to divorce themselves from American culture, Kitagawa says despite traveling to a distant continent and culture, it is something you cannot avoid.

"When I hear that a family friend or someone is thinking about going into the Peace Corps I am usually hesitant to give advice," Kitagawa said. "You have to think about all that Peace Corps is. A lot of people have this idealized version of helping, helping, helping, but Peace Corps fits into a broader picture. It is a piece of U.S. foreign policy; good work is secondary.

"Peace Corps says it wants to be apolitical, but it's hard to avoid U.S. or local politics. You have to understand its purpose and take it into consideration because it is something you are going to be a part of."

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

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Story Source: Davis Enterprise

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



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