Erin Sims - Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine- Fall 2010 - Winter 2012
Joining the Peace Corps was something I became interested in during high school, but I wasn't ready to go straight to college after I graduated. A college degree isn't necessarily required to become a volunteer, but knew I would have a better chance at being accepted with a degree than without, and at the time I didn't really believe I would ever be able to make it happen.
Years later I was ready to go to school full-time and I moved back home to Pittsburg from Phoenix to attend PSU. As a non-traditional student, it was a struggle to adapt to the change in lifestyle. Juggling a full academic course load and continuing to work full-time was a challenge, but it was absolutely worth it because I know it helped me prepare for the demands that will come during my time as a Peace Corps volunteer.
A conversation with a friend who was considering the Peace Corps rekindled my interest and as I researched and expressed my interest to my advisors, I found several faculty and staff on campus who are former volunteers and who were more than willing to share stories about their experiences with me. The consensus was that volunteering is an opportunity not to be passed up, and in most cases, it was life changing. I felt confident that joining the Peace Corps was the next step I wanted to take after I graduated.
After going through the application process I was invited to teach English in Ukraine this September. I know that attending PSU helped me accomplish my goal. I was able to go on two study abroad trips; one independently through a K-State program for six weeks to Istanbul, and the other for two weeks in Korea with a group program at PSU. I was able to meet students from all over the world and become familiar with diverse cultures in class and through the conversation partners program in the International Students office. I attended programs presented by international student groups as often as I could. I gained experience helping non-native English speakers by tutoring international students both privately and in the writing center. I also assisted teaching through a community program at the Adult Education Center. I completed two Bachelor's degrees; one in English (Technical Writing) and the other in International Studies.
I know there are many students at PSU facing the same challenges I did. PSU instructors are fair, understand, encouraging, and supportive of students with responsibilities outside the classroom. They truly care and want to see all of their students succeed. The variety of programs offered through the study abroad office and in other departments makes it possible for students to travel places they never thought they'd go. Returning to PSU to compete my degrees was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
Read Erin's blog- http://beetsandbuckwheat.tumblr.com/