UAF professor shares Peace Corp experiences

Fernanda Chamorro/Sun Star Reporter
Oct. 18, 2011

This year the Peace Corps celebrated its 50th anniversary. Promoting world peace and friendship has been the organization’s mission since its inception in 1961. The government-run American volunteer organization provides people an opportunity not only to improve the lives of others, but to better their selves and open their minds to a world of experience and adventure.

Tony Gasbarro is a UAF professor emeritus who received the John F. Kennedy Service Award for outstanding service to the Peace Corps, according to the Peace Corps website.

He joined the Peace Corps after graduating from high school and served in the Dominican Republic for two years. Thirty years later, he was sent to El Salvador where he created a program that provides scholarships for youth and raises more than $40,000 a year.  He helped form UAF’s role in the Peace Corps Master’s International program in 2004.  Gasbarro gave a presentation on his work in El Salvador on Oct. 13 in the Wood Center conference room.

“The young children who don’t even know they’re poor, they’ve never received a birthday gift, they’ve never received a Christmas present in their lives, and so they get by with simple things,” he said regarding the joyous faces of his community in El Salvador. “They’re happy, pretty happy kids.”

The Peace Corps offers volunteer programs to graduates or anyone older than 18 who has worked three to five years. In the program, volunteers travel to one of 75 countries and work to help a community over the course of 27 months. About three months out of the 27 are used for training the individual on the culture, food, language, health and safety programs of the country, and other necessary skills.

Volunteers can work in one of six categories: agriculture, business and information and communication technology, education, environment, health and HIV/AIDS, and youth and community development.

The main goals are to help promote the training of men and women in countries that request our help, share American culture and help Americans open their eyes and understand other countries.  Volunteers experience the living conditions and cultures first-hand.

The Peace Corps pays a living allowance and a completion allowance which include housing, food, travel to and from the country of service, medical and dental care, 48 paid vacation days and more.  The Peace Corps offers scholarship programs and opens many doors, providing volunteers with skills that will make them more appealing to future employers and the government.

More information is available at the Office of Multicultural Affairs & Diversity or online at http://www.uaf.edu/gradsch/uaf-peace-corps-programs/.

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