Vermont, New York Claim Top Spots for Volunteer-Producing States

Kudos to the Northeast region for having the #1 per capita state, the #1 per capita metro and the #1 overall metro in the United States of America! 

Top_States_Per_CapOn December 16th, the Peace Corps released its annual ranking of the top Volunteer-producing states and metropolitan areas across the country. Among the
highlights:

  • Vermont was #1 among states with the most Peace Corps Volunteers per capita with 7.8 Volunteers for every 100,000 residents.
  • New Hampshire was #5 for states producing Volunteers per capita with 4.3 Volunteers per 100,000 residents. Maine also made top ranks this year by landing at #9 with 3.7 Volunteers per 100,000 residents.
  • Ithaca, N.Y. took the top spot for metros per capita with currently-serving Peace Corps Volunteers accounting for 14.5 of every 100,000 residents.
  • New York was the second-highest producing state for Volunteers with 412 New Yorkers serving overseas.Top_Metro_Per_Cap
  • Pennsylvania ranked #6 as a top Volunteer-producing state with
    270 Pennsylvanians serving in the Peace Corps.
  • The Boston, New York City and Philadelphia metros ranked high on the Peace Corps’ list of Top Metropolitan Areas for Total Volunteers.  The New York-Newark-Jersey City area was the #1 metropolitan producer of Peace Corps Volunteers, while the Boston-Cambridge-Newton metro area and the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area ranked #6 and #9 respectively.

Villages around the world are getting their first impression of America by way of Boston, Burlington, Ithaca, New York City, and Philadelphia.

“Peace Corps volunteers promote a better understanding of Americans around the world by sharing their unique hometown perspective during their service,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “As we forge a modern Peace Corps for modern times, we remain committed to building a volunteer force that reflects the rich diversity of our country and doing more to recruit and retain the best and brightest across the U.S.”

To see the complete 2014 rankings of Peace Corps’ top states and metro areas, click here.


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Making a Home From Ithaca to Mongolia

Victoria Jordan, a longtime Ithacan who is currently teaching English at a university in Mongolia, admires a scenic view of the country’s valleys, rivers and streams during a field trip to the Mongolian-Russian border.

When Victoria Jordan, 62, first hauled her life to a new place, she was a mother in search of a stable home for her two-year-old daughter in central New York. This year, with that toddler now graduated from college, Victoria has once again packed up to find a new frontier in Mongolia as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

“Honestly, it was both exciting and scary to serve overseas,” said Victoria, who started her service back in August. “Getting rid of so many life-long belongings was the most difficult, but I knew I needed a change, a challenge and a new life style.”

After spending most of her years in Ithaca, N.Y. – which recently ranked as the No.1 metropolitan area in the nation for producing Peace Corps Volunteers – Victoria chose to serve in Peace Corps as an English teacher at a university in Mongolia.

With two decades of teaching experience and an itch for creative writing – her original works have been featured in various literary magazines and periodicals – the Binghamton University alum looks forward to helping Mongolian students craft the written word in a new language.

“I hope I am modeling a more student-centered pedagogy at the college level,” she added, “and contributing to an atmosphere among professors of shared learning and teaching as opposed to one of competition.”

Though she has started to adopt a whole new lifestyle based in Mongolian culture, Victoria knows that part of her heart still lives in Ithaca, a place where her daughter – a graduate of Ithaca College – still calls home.

“I have made a couple of life-long friends in Ithaca whom I now consider family,” Victoria said. “It will always be a home base for me.”

Click here to learn more about Peace Corps Mongolia.

Q&A with Volunteer Jonathan Foster-Moore

Volunteer Jonathan Foster-Moore, far right, who is currently serving in the Kyrgyz Republic, with locals from his village.

Volunteer Jonathan Foster-Moore, far right — who is currently serving in the Kyrgyz Republic — with locals from his village.

Florence, Mass. resident and St. Lawrence University alum Jonathan Foster-Moore — who is currently serving as a Health Volunteer in The Kyrgyz Republic — reflects on his first few months of service, which are highlighted in the Peace Corps’ newest public service announcement.  

What is your main project while serving in the Kyrgyz Republic? I’ve been partnered with a regional Health Promotion Unit (HPU) at a family medical center that distributes literature and gives training on many health topics in my village.

Have you launched any other secondary projects? I recently had the first meeting of my Youth Health Educator group, composed entirely of secondary school-age kids that learn about health topics and ultimately teach those lessons back to their peers in the local language.

What motivated you to join Peace Corps? At first it was something that I just barely knew about, my interest coming in waves. But it wasn’t until my senior year of college that I understood that this was something I actually wanted to do – to spread knowledge, to help other people understand how to help themselves, to realize their own potential. I also saw my time in Peace Corps as an opportunity to delve into and work on myself, to live modestly and to truly appreciate the small things in life.

How has your service differed from what you expected?  In what ways has it met your expectations? It’s easy for people to think of Peace Corps service as something completely different from “real life,” as a wild and crazy adventure. But at the end of the day so much of what we do here is about creating a life for ourselves in a new place. Wanting to change the world within your two years is a lofty and virtually unattainable goal. Just don’t let that stop you from realizing the good that can be done by focusing on things of a smaller, yet equally important nature – your relationship with your host family and the people in your community and other Peace Corps volunteers.

Jonathan with his newly created Youth Health Educator group.

Jonathan with his newly created Youth Health Educator group.

Volunteers: New Grad School Opportunities at Suffolk University

The Peace Corps recently announced its new partnership with Suffolk University for a graduate school program – known as the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program – which will provide scholarships to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who complete an internship that is relevant to their studies and serves a neglected community in America.

“Returning Peace Corps Volunteers will find a warm welcome at Suffolk University, which has a long tradition of promoting service learning that benefits the community,” said Marisa Kelly, the University’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. “We look forward to engaging our Coverdell Fellows academically and providing internship opportunities that will help them grow into careers that build on their public service experience.”

The new partnership will offer degrees in healthcare and public administration in the Sawyer Business School and degrees in crime and justice studies, ethics and public policy, mental health counseling and political science in the College of Arts and Sciences.

To successfully complete the program, participating Suffolk Coverdell Fellows are encouraged to pursue internships at local non-profits and government organizations, such as the South Boston Community Health Center, Boys and Girls Club of Boston, the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness or Prisoners’ Legal Services.

Candidates for the program will receive financial aid that amounts to at least 30 percent of tuition, ranging from $8,054 to $17,072 per year depending on their degree.

Click here to read more about the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program. To learn how you can become a Suffolk Coverdell Fellow, contact Cory J. Meyers, Director of Graduate Admission at Suffolk University, at (617) 573-8302.

Massachusetts Volunteer Lands Spot in National Peace Corps PSA

The Peace Corps recently debuted a new public service announcement via YouTube – complete with photos taken by Volunteers while overseas, including Florence, Mass. native Jonathan Foster-Moore – to capture the authentic Peace Corps experience.

“Volunteers are the heart of the Peace Corps, and these passionate photos provide a glimpse into their stories and the moments that will forever change them and the communities they serve,” said Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “As we revitalize our recruitment and outreach, we hope this new message will inspire viewers to learn more about how they can make a difference with the Peace Corps.”

The 30-second video titled “Defining Moments” – which features the song “Peace” by American rock band O.A.R. – showcases photos that were selected for the agency’s Volunteer Viewfinder Photo Contest in August. The contest sought photos from both current and Returned Volunteers who documented extraordinary scenes during their Peace Corps service and judged these entries on creativity, photographic quality, and strength in representing the contest theme.

Volunteer Jonathan Foster-Moore's winning photo taken in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Volunteer Jonathan Foster-Moore’s winning photo.

Among this year’s five winners is Jonathan – a St. Lawrence University alum who is currently serving in the Kyrgyz Republic – for his photo taken at a training site in his host country.

“A Volunteer faced off against our language and cross-cultural trainer in an exciting arm-wrestling match,” he noted on his winning entry. “The trainer’s daughter stood beside him, offering encouragement, while fellow Volunteers cheered for both.”

In addition to Mr. Foster-Moore, the following current and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers from across the nation also won the photo contest.

  • Michelle Chan, of Takoma Park, Maryland (served in Jordan)
  • Natalie Moore, of Alexandria, Virginia (currently serving in Burkina Faso)
  • Cappy Phalen, of Clarksville, Maryland (served in Guinea)
  • Westen Thomas, of Mandan, North Dakota (currently serving in Cambodia)

As part of a six-week digital campaign, the PSA featuring all of these winning entries has also appeared on platforms such as Hulu, Pandora, Facebook and the ESPN network’s website.

Click here to see all of the winning entries from our Volunteer Viewfinder Photo Contest.