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Friends for Peace RSO helps students prep for Peace Corps

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Friends for Peace became a registered student organization (RSO) last year to connect students interested Peace Corps and similar service opportunities. The founding members were all part of the new Peace Corps Prep program and wanted to support each other in meeting the requirements. The RSO’s main goals are promoting global and cultural awareness, encouraging students to take advantage of existing service opportunities, and engaging in community events.

All are welcome to attend a Peace Corps Panel on November 14. SENIORS can also get hands-on help at a Peace Corps application workshop on November 28.

The core components of the Prep program include meaningful preparation not only for Peace Corps service but also for employment more generally. Illinois State offers the classes and experiences to prepare students for Peace Corps in any of its six job areas: agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth in development. The program is open to students in any major and encourages them to maximize their college experience by engaging with the community, thinking globally, and seeking leadership roles. Friends for Peace helps students meet these goals.

Zoe Amundson, president of Friends for Peace, describes the RSO as “a place where students interested in Peace Corps can come together and connect with one another.” She and her leadership team have been helping students in completing the Prep program, meeting individuals with similar interests, and becoming integrated in Bloomington-Normal through service experiences. The club seeks to guide students through the process of fulfilling their dreams in improving lives of others around the world.

“This club has provided me with the confidence to expand my horizons beyond the comfort of this country, and it is a gift I will hold with me throughout the rest of my life.”—Zoe Amundson

Amundson, who is majoring in anthropology, described her leadership role as “one that I have come to value greatly.” Some of the RSO officers’ responsibilities include planning weekly meetings, fielding questions, connecting students with local nonprofit organizations, and providing the Friends for Peace family with the tools they need to feel and become successful. “It has been wonderful to see the Prep students start this organization of their own initiative and then build it from the ground up,” said RSO advisor Beverly Beyer. “That experience in itself tells me that the members will go on to have a positive impact, whatever path they follow after graduation. It’s such a pleasure to work with this group!”

Amundson hopes to join the Peace Corps after graduation. The Prep program was an important factor for her in choosing Illinois State University as a transfer student. Amundson plans to apply to Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and graduate school at the same time and go from there. “This club has provided me with the confidence to expand my horizons beyond the comfort of this country, and it is a gift I will hold with me throughout the rest of my life,” Amundson said.

Friends for Peace meets Wednesdays at 7 p.m. (most weeks in 138 Schroeder Hall, November 14 on the sixth floor of Milner Library). The meetings cover a wide range of topics. This semester, returned Peace Corps volunteers who served in Mongolia and Timor-Leste shared their personal experiences living overseas, along with a sample of the cuisine. Another meeting included a live chat with an RSO alum serving with AmeriCorps in California. Some meetings have service activities, while others involve training, for example on leadership skills.

Amundson wants students to know that everyone is welcome to attend meetings, regardless of their interest in Peace Corps or the Prep program. Meetings are a great opportunity for students to get involved in service and meet other students who share the same interests. Friends for Peace provides students with information about postgraduation opportunities and ways to prepare and make the most of them.

Both Peace Corps and AmeriCorps can launch careers through exclusive post-service job opportunities and graduate school benefits. Of all of the partner universities, Illinois State offers one of the most competitive financial packages in the country through the Stevenson Center‘s applied, interdisciplinary Fellows programs.

To learn more about the RSO, students can email or visit Friends for Peace. Seniors interested in applying to Peace Corps are strongly encouraged to contact the University’s campus recruiter, Drea Luce as soon as possible.

Megan Birk is the Stevenson Center’s public relations intern.