October 28, 2005: Headlines: Local Groups: Johns Hopkins News-Letter: Peace Corps brings the world to classrooms at Johns Hopkins in Maryland

Peace Corps Online: State: Maryland : The Peace Corps and Maryland: October 28, 2005: Headlines: Local Groups: Johns Hopkins News-Letter: Peace Corps brings the world to classrooms at Johns Hopkins in Maryland

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Peace Corps brings the world to classrooms at Johns Hopkins in Maryland

Peace Corps brings the world to classrooms at Johns Hopkins in Maryland

In recent years, the Peace Corps has expanded its program of furthering the cultural understanding of Baltimore's youth by bringing in Peace Corps volunteers from overseas to talk about their experiences in another country with the students in the penpal and Around the World programs.

Peace Corps brings the world to classrooms at Johns Hopkins in Maryland

Peace Corps brings the world to classrooms
by Shiraz Rahim
October 28, 2005

With the hundreds of service and volunteer projects that Hopkins students commit their time to, it's all too easy to make mistakes, like confusing Teach Baltimore and the JHU Tutorial Project, or thinking that Patchwork is a JHU sewing class (it's not).

Yet one of Hopkins' largest and most involved volunteer organizations, the Peace Corps, has a name that rises above the rest.

A fairly new organization founded at Hopkins only three years ago and currently headed by president Jillian Cordero, the JHU Peace Corps is a branch of the National Peace Corps whose goal is a general bettering and servicing of the immediate Baltimore area.

Currently, the group is focusing on two major volunteer programs aimed at expanding the skills and knowledge of local elementary school children.

One of these programs, which takes place at Margaret Brent Elementary school, just five blocks away from the Homewood campus, involves Hopkins volunteers organizing a penpal system with fourth- and fifth-grade students.

The children are assisted in improving their writing and reading skills as they write letters about themselves and their life in America to elementary school students in Bangladesh with the hopes of expanding each student's understanding of another culture while gaining skills necessary to succeed in future school years.

Furthermore, this program involves discussions between the children and Hopkins students on major issues throughout America, such as the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, with the intent of engaging the students in provocative thought about what is happening in the world and what people should do about these issues.

Another program, called "Around the World," is an after-school program with children from second to fifth grade and is designed to give students a better understanding and appreciation of other -- and, in turn, their own -- cultures. Each month of the program is dedicated to a particular country, usually one that has been traditionally viewed in a negative light in American society.

Each week of each month is designated to a particular aspect of the country being presented, such as food, sports, history, geography, folklore or language. This year's countries are Cuba, Iraq, Ethiopia, Greece and Vietnam.

In recent years, the Peace Corps has expanded its program of furthering the cultural understanding of Baltimore's youth by bringing in Peace Corps volunteers from overseas to talk about their experiences in another country with the students in the penpal and Around the World programs.

Along with their new Hopkins Peace Corps friends, the students engage in various fun-filled activities designed to teach them about other cultures and get a better understanding of what the overseas volunteer has learned about a particular country.

The Peace Corps engages in far more than just teaching kids the meaning of cultural acceptance and understanding. The organization has begun to spread throughout the Baltimore community to provide services for older residents of the city. They have also volunteered at Heart's Place, a local homeless shelter, and Peggy's Place, an orphanage.

JHU Peace Corps assists with preparing dinners for, and serving these dinners to, the homeless; participates in helping orphans with homework; and provides educational materials in a group now called "The Project."

Thanks to its involvement in both the Hopkins and Baltimore communities, the Peace Corps has become one of the most influential volunteer organizations on campus.

"Our focus is to bring service to the Baltimore community," said JHU Peace Corps Vice President Nurein Fuseini, "and allow Hopkins students a way to do this, since our programs are so close to school. We embody the National Peace Corps in trying to bring people together and create cultural understanding and respect."

For those students wishing to get even more involved with the organization, the JHU chapter also has its own recruiter who can get Hopkins students more involved with the programs run by the National Peace Corps.

In essence, the National Peace Corps offers the epitome of volunteer opportunities that often begins here in Baltimore, working with the JHU Chapter.

Perhaps one day the Baltimore kids who were helped by the programs will become the smarter and culturally tolerant leaders of tomorrow's Peace Corps.

When this story was posted in November 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Johns Hopkins News-Letter

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