Peace Corps

Zadok Nampala, international student adviser at North Iowa Area Community College, can relate to those he's helping because he was once in their shoes. Nampala, or "Z," as he is known around campus, grew up in Kenya and attended Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids and the University of Iowa. Nampala, who has been at NIACC since August, speaks seven languages and frequently uses three of them — Spanish, Arabic and Swahili — when speaking to the international students at NIACC so "they feel at home," he said.

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Brad Merryman will tell you he has the best job in the world. After 25 years in the IT industry, he hung up his hat and volunteered in Costa Rica through the Peace Corps. Just a few short months after returning to the U.S., Merryman was honored to accept the Midwest Regional Manager position with the Peace Corps, where he now oversees the recruitment of volunteers throughout a region spanning 11 states.

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During their youth in Liberia, Theophilus and Rebecca Kollie developed fond memories from their interactions with U.S. Peace Corps volunteers. Little did they know that, decades later, their American-born daughter would complete the circle by returning to Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer after graduating from the University of Iowa.

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Thanks to UI graduate Ryan Kloberdanz, an entire village in the Kingdom of Tonga is spreading the Hawkeye spirit. Kloberdanz, from West Des Moines, Iowa graduated from the UI in 2006 with degrees in political science and journalism and mass communication. From 2012-2014, he and his wife worked in a rural village of Tonga through the Peace Corps. In this video, we see and hear the residents of the village singing the Iowa Fight Song!

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Before some important changes were made earlier this year to the Peace Corps' initial application process, Meredith Gall used to describe the eight-hour, online experience as an illustrative introduction to what would-be applicants were getting themselves into. In July 2014, when the Peace Corps launched a streamlined, one-hour version of its application and prospective applicants are responding.

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The African Studies Program, a constituent program of University of Iowa International Programs, has awarded Professor Christopher D. Roy, the Elizabeth M. Stanley Faculty Fellow of African Art History, the 2014 African Studies Faculty of the Year Award. This award is presented to Professor Roy in recognition of his outstanding contribution to teaching and research in African studies at the University of Iowa for more than 35 years.

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Nicky Fish graduated from the University of Iowa this past spring — but has to wait almost a year to depart on her new journey with the Peace Corps. Fish said one of the most difficult aspects of process was the application. “It probably took me about two months to get through,” Fish said. “Honestly though, the hardest part is all the waiting. By the time I leave, it will have been a little over a year since I first applied, which is a pretty average timeline, but it is hard to work your life around.”

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After returning to the U.S. from volunteering in the Republic of Georgia with the Peace Corps, two UI grads decided that they would like to share the culture of hospitality that they had learned from the Georgians and opened a food cart in Portland, Oregon, called Kargi GoGo, serving the Georgian fare they love.

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Amy Bowes, a Study Abroad adviser at the University of Iowa, was lost. It was 2005, and she had just graduated from the UI with a degree in political science. She remembered the Peace Corps building she had seen while interning in Washington, D.C., and decided to volunteer. Six months later, she was teaching high-school English in Lesotho — a country in Africa. Bowes said she now uses her experiences of feeling unsure about travel and her future to relate with students on campus today.

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An increasing number of University of Iowa students are choosing to not only study abroad but also to work and volunteer overseas. The university is ranked 46th, among schools of its size, in the number of students graduating and joining the Peace Corps.

The UI recently increased its response to this demand by creating a position specifically geared toward students wanting to work, intern, or volunteer abroad. The position has been in place for 18 months, and officials have seen good results.

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