2006.08.21: August 21, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Maryville Daily Forum: Billi Walker has been accepted into the Peace Corps, and will be leaving for Ukraine, where she will teach English as a foreign language at a secondary school

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ukraine: Peace Corps Ukraine : The Peace Corps in the Ukraine: 2006.08.21: August 21, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Maryville Daily Forum: Billi Walker has been accepted into the Peace Corps, and will be leaving for Ukraine, where she will teach English as a foreign language at a secondary school

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-245-27-107.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - on Thursday, September 21, 2006 - 8:52 am: Edit Post

Billi Walker has been accepted into the Peace Corps, and will be leaving for Ukraine, where she will teach English as a foreign language at a secondary school

Billi Walker has been accepted into the Peace Corps, and will be leaving for Ukraine, where she will teach English as a foreign language at a secondary school

Most people wouldn't want to be in a foreign country, an ocean away from home, surrounded by people they don't know, in a city they're unfamiliar with, all while struggling to learn the alien language and culture around them.

Billi Walker has been accepted into the Peace Corps, and will be leaving for Ukraine, where she will teach English as a foreign language at a secondary school

Walker awaiting her Peace

Published: Monday, August 21, 2006 7:44 PM CDT
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Maryville woman accepted into Corps



Forum Reporter

Most people wouldn't want to be in a foreign country, an ocean away from home, surrounded by people they don't know, in a city they're unfamiliar with, all while struggling to learn the alien language and culture around them.

But 22-year-old Billi Walker can't wait to do just that.

Walker, who was born and raised in Maryville, has been accepted into the Peace Corps, and will be leaving, Sept. 28 for the Ukraine, where she will teach English as a foreign language at a secondary school.

A recent April graduate from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Walker is no stranger to traveling abroad and helping others.

"The summer after my freshman year in college, I went on a mission trip for a month and a half where we taught English in Portugal," Walker said.

Walker said she first traveled overseas with her mom when she was 16, "and I have just loved being abroad ever since."

Receiving her degree in international studies, Walker said she considered getting a job right after college, before she decided to pursue joining the Peace Corps.

"I had an emphasis in international business studies, and I had looked into doing something with a large business in New York City, but nothing really excited me like the Peace Corps did.

It would be safe to say that both Walker's experience teaching English in a foreign country and the versatility of her education contributed to the Peace Corps accepting her.

"My degree and the classes I took required a lot of studying about different cultures," she said. "I studied abroad my sophomore year, and I think that that has helped me to understand more about different cultures and have a better idea about what I'm getting into."

And Walker's acceptance into the corps wasn't as assured as it may have been back in the early '60s, when the Peace Corps was first founded by President John F. Kennedy.

"It has become more selective in the past few years," Walker said. "They've gotten to the point where they don't really accept people who haven't graduated college yet."

In fact, a look at the statistics of the Peace Corps shows that 96 percent of its members have at least an undergraduate degree.

While Walker doesn't know any Ukrainian yet, she said that's not going to be a big hindrance in her ability to teach, since she will primarily be working with 10- to 17-year-olds.

"I won't have to know the language in order to teach, but it will be very necessary for me to survive in the country," she said.

Walker will also undergo a three-month training course, while living with a local family where she can learn about the language and the country firsthand.

"Part of our training will focus on teaching us how to teach," she said. "For the first six months, we live with host families that will help us get adjusted to the culture."

To date, more than 182,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps since it was established March 1, 1961, by Kennedy's executive order.

While primarily known for their humanitarian projects, the Peace Corps' mission statement has three goals:

1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.

2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.

3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

These core principles are what attracted Walker, and her willingness to serve, to the corps.

"I've always wanted to do more than just a job where I simply make money," she said. "If I do anything, I want to be able to help people while I do it. This gives me the opportunity to help people, while not having to provide for myself."

Although serving for 27 months in a foreign country is a big commitment, Walker said she's been surrounded by the love and support of friends and family.

"I have a friend who applied for the Peace Corps last fall and she was accepted to go to the Republic of Georgia, and she's been a big encouragement to me," Walker said.

And Walker said her mom has been encouraging, too.

"She's just excited that I'm doing what I want to do with my life," she said.

Being accepted into the corps has been something of a dream come true for Walker, who said she didn't really have any other plans after college besides applying for the corps.

"I'm very excited to be going, and I'm excited to see where it will take me later in life," she said.

Walker is only one of 7,810 volunteers in the Peace Corps.

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush pledged to increase the size of the corps, two-fold, by 2007, in an effort to stem the growing anti-U.S. sentiment in the Middle East.

According to Joseph Kennedy, father of the late president, "The American reputation has taken a hit in the last couple of years. The need for the Peace Corps couldn't be more urgent. The Peace Corps shows what is best in America, the generosity of spirit."

When this story was posted in September 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Maryville Daily Forum

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


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