New York Native, Connecticut Businessman Gears Up For Peace Corps Service at 50

East Hartford resident Chris Kalish will depart for service in Botswana as a Community and Economic Development Volunteer on July 23rd.

East Hartford resident Chris Kalish will depart for service in Botswana as a Community and Economic Development Volunteer on August 2nd.

Chris Kalish, 50, of Pleasantville, New York, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Botswana August 2nd to begin training as a Community and Economic Development Volunteer. Chris will live and work in a community to improve its local government and participate in a secondary project to help meet community development needs. As an older volunteer, Kalish believes the insight he has gained from years of experience will prove beneficial during service, though knows he will miss his family in those two years overseas.

“I have two children in college and they are looking forward to learning more about Africa and my assignment,” he said. “They are a big part of who I am and I look forward to communicating with them while I’m abroad.”

Chris, who currently lives in East Hartford, Connecticut, is a graduate of Ardsley High School in Westchester County, New York. He then attended Columbia University School of Engineering, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering in 1987.

As an innovation and technology consultant, Chris has more than 25 years of experience in Information Technology and systems architecture. He served as president and CEO of The IP Factory – a non-profit corporation based in Connecticut that combines technology and business processes to develop companies – and former director and chief technology officer of the General Electric edgelab research facility, for which he managed strategic corporate initiatives from New Product Introductions (NPIs) and Market Entrance Strategies to stochastic risk modeling and econometrics. Prior to his tenure at GE, Chris also worked as a Technical Fellow at PepsiCo to develop global systems architecture and technology strategies. Chris is the immediate past chairman of the Connecticut Technology Council, a statewide association that represents more than 2,000 technology companies in the realm of innovation. His research background includes parallel systems and hardware, compiler design and applied studies in emerging technologies, such as biometrics, sales force automation, and broadband wireless technologies.

Additionally, Chris has served as director of the Tarrytown Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Westchester County Regional EMS Council, advisor to the county executive of the Westchester County EMS Advisory Board and member of the president of the University of Connecticut’s Advisory Board for Technology Commercialization. He has also volunteered with the American Red Cross, American Heart Association and Alzheimer’s Association.

During the first three months of his service, Chris will live with a host family in Botswana to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the language and cultural skills necessary to assist his community, Chris will be sworn into service and be assigned to a community in Botswana, where he will live and work for two years with the local people.

“As an engineer, researcher, and volunteer, I approach all challenges with an analytical lens and try to treat all colleagues with respect and empathy,” he said. “I hope that I leave Botswana with a measurable impact on their quality of life, economic condition, or standard of care.”

Chris joins the 107 Connecticut residents currently serving in the Peace Corps and more than 3,393 Connecticut residents who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.

Click here to learn more about Peace Corps Volunteers who are making a difference in their golden years.

Staten Island Resident Begins Peace Corps Service in Cambodia

Staten Island resident Jenny Pisani will depart for service in Cambodia as an Education Volunteer on July 23rd.

Staten Island resident Jenny Pisani will depart for service in Cambodia as an Education Volunteer on July 23rd.

Jenny Pisani, 24, of Staten Island, New York, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Cambodia July 23rd to begin training as an Education Volunteer. Jenny will live and work in a community to teach English at the secondary level and participate in a secondary project to help meet community development needs.

“My main project will be teaching English as a second language to middle and high school students,” she noted. “However, I’ll also be involved with many other exciting projects, including the new Let Girls Learn initiative in an effort to expand the educational opportunities to adolescent girls in Cambodia.”

Jenny is the daughter of David and Michele Pisani and a graduate of Staten Island Technical High School. She then attended Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology and a bachelor of arts degree in creative writing in 2012. She also earned a master’s degree in educational science with a concentration in secondary English in 2015.

Jenny previously worked as a prevocational counselor for the New York-based non-profit organization Community Resource Center for the Developmentally Disabled and a full-time English teacher for New York City Department of Education. She intends to pursue another graduate degree upon completing her service as part of the Peace Corps’ Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, which offers graduate studies for returned volunteers at more than 90 leading academic institutions nationwide.

“I love learning and want to continue my post-graduate education to eventually earn either a Ph.D. or an MFA in creative writing and become a professor,” she said. “I haven’t decided exactly which program or university I will apply to yet, but I’m very interested in the MFA program at Georgia College.”

During the first three months of her service, Jenny will live with a host family in Cambodia to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the language and cultural skills necessary to assist her community, Jenny will be sworn into service and be assigned to a community in Cambodia, where she will live and work for two years with the local people.

“I hope most of all to connect with the people, show kindness and humility in a way that will hopefully provide them with a positive view of Americans,” she said. “Ultimately, my job is to teach English and I hope I succeed in that regard, but I also hope to leave an echo of love for our fellow man.”

Jenny joins the 412 New York residents currently serving in the Peace Corps and more than 13,303 New York residents who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.

The Greater New York City metropolitan area is the top Peace Corps volunteer-producing region in the nation. 335 New York City residents are currently serving in the Peace Corps. New York State is also ranked as the second highest volunteer producing state in the nation.

Worcester Resident Begins Peace Corps Service in Belize

Worcester resident Loan Chau, who left for Belize last month, is currently serving as a Health Volunteer.

Worcester resident Loan Chau, who left for Belize last month, is currently serving as a Health Volunteer.

Loan Chau, 21, of Worcester, Massachusetts, departed for Belize last month to begin her Peace Corps training as a Health Volunteer. Chau will live and work in a community to improve its standards of maternal and child health and participate in a secondary project to help meet community development needs.

As she adjusts to life in Belize, which is her first time settling very far from home, Chau expects to learn much about Latin American culture while teaching the Belizean people about diversity in the United States.

“I’ve never been out of North America – I’ve only been to Canada – and I am sure adjusting will be a challenge,” she said. “I do feel like growing up in a multicultural environment has prepped me though. I was raised in a traditional Vietnamese cultural household, which I feel differs dramatically from mainstream American culture.”

Chau is the daughter of Linh Chau and Danny Luu and a graduate of Worcester Technical High School in Worcester, Ma. She then attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Ma. where she earned a B.S. in psychological sciences in 2015.

Chau previously worked as a certified nursing assistant and volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Worcester County and other service organizations at Worchester Polytechnic Institute. While she accomplished her fair share of volunteerism in her hometown, Chau wanted to extend her reach to serve internationally as a Peace Corps volunteer.

“My college has plenty of volunteer opportunities for students to partake in, but one of my dreams has always been to volunteer in the Peace Corps,” she explained. “This way, my love for volunteering could be combined with being able to travel. Even though I have no traveled too much, I have always had an interest in experiencing different cultures, its food, practices, and rituals.”

During the first three months of her service, Chau will live with a host family in Belize to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the language and cultural skills necessary to assist her community, Chau will be sworn into service and be assigned to a community in Belize, where she will live and work for two years with the local people.

“You can only read so much in a textbook and through resources but you will never know something until you experience it first-hand,” she said. “I know that I am going to Belize to help promote health and well-being, but I know for a fact that I will do a whole lot of learning from everyone that I meet there.”

Chau joins the 212 Massachusetts residents currently serving in the Peace Corps and more than 7,695 Massachusetts residents who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.

Altoona Native Begins Peace Corps Service in Swaziland

Altoona native Rachel Albright, left, who left for Swaziland last month, is currently serving as a Youth Development Volunteer.

Altoona native Rachel Albright, left, who left for Swaziland last month, is currently serving as a Youth Development Volunteer. Here she is pictured with her parents, William and Teresa Albright.

Rachel Albright, 25, of Altoona, Pennsylvania, departed for Swaziland last month to begin her Peace Corps training as a Youth Development Volunteer. Albright will live and work in a community teaching life skills to local youth and participates in a secondary project to help meet community development needs.

As she acclimates herself to life in Swaziland, Albright anticipates her own personal growth when she begins working in her host community.

“I’m looking forward to being pushed outside of my comfort zone and learning and growing personally,” Albright said. “I feel I will learn just as much, if not more, from the people of Swaziland as they will learn from me.”

Albright is the daughter of William and Teresa Albright and a graduate of Bellwood-Antis High School in Altoona, Pa. She then attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pa., where she earned her bachelor’s degree in general psychology in 2012, and University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pa., to earn her master’s degree in applied developmental psychology in 2014.

Albright will miss her family the most during her two years overseas – which she said has been a strong support system in the application process – along with plenty of other American comforts.

“I’m sure I will miss certain amenities, like running water and electricity of course, but I’ll learn to live as the Swazis do,” she explained. “They also do not have Chipotle in Swaziland, so I may go through a little withdrawal.”

During the first three months of her service, Albright will live with a host family in Swaziland to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the language and cultural skills necessary to assist her community, Albright will be sworn into service and be assigned to a community in Swaziland, where she will live and work for two years with the local people.

“I hope to be a positive role model for the kids,” she noted. “I want to leave behind an accurate and positive impression of our country. I also hope that I am successful with my main project and am able to make my work sustainable for the Swazi people.”

Albright previously interned as a clinical associate at SAFE (Services for Adolescent and Family Enrichment), a Pittsburgh-based outpatient program that provides mental health treatment to local children and adolescents in the juvenile court system.

Albright joins the 270 Pennsylvania residents currently serving in the Peace Corps and more than 7,900 Pennsylvania residents who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.

Pennsylvania was recently recognized as a top producer of Peace Corps volunteers. It ranked No. 6 among states with the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers currently serving overseas.

Peace Corps and Saint Michael’s College Announce New Peace Corps Prep Program

Peace Corps Volunteer Christina Colley, who is currently teaching elementary school students and faculty in Grenada, graduated from Saint Michael's College in 2010.

Peace Corps Volunteer Christina Colley, who is currently teaching elementary school students and faculty in Grenada, graduated from Saint Michael’s College in 2010.

The Peace Corps and Saint Michael’s College today announced a new partnership that will offer students a unique combination of undergraduate coursework and community service that prepares them for a career in international development.

St. Michael’s College students will be able to apply to the new Peace Corps Prep program for enrollment beginning spring 2016.

“Students today have a passion for service and are interested in not just imagining a better world, but rolling up their sleeves and doing something about it,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Through the Peace Corps Prep program, St. Michael’s College students can develop skills specifically targeted to Peace Corps service and careers in the international development and service communities.”

Students in St. Michael’s College’s Peace Corps Prep program will build hands-on experience and leadership skills while completing courses focused on intercultural competence and foreign language. Upon completion of the program, which will be housed in the Applied Linguistics Department, students will receive a signed certificate of completion from the Peace Corps.

“Saint Michael’s College is pleased to be one of a few colleges and universities selected to participate in the Peace Corps Prep Program,” said Saint Michael’s President John J. Neuhauser.  “This will enable the college to continue and strengthen our strong history of service.”

“This new initiative will fortify the long-standing connection of the college and the Peace Corps, which began when Bernard Boutin, the twelfth president of Saint Michael’s, was involved in the creation of the Peace Corps,” President Neuhauser added. “We at the college are proud that this tradition of service among our graduates will now grow even stronger.”

The Peace Corps has Peace Corps Prep program partnerships with more than 25 leading academic institutions nationwide. Established in 2007, the program aims to support schools’ efforts to provide substantive, globally focused experiences for their students. Those who successfully complete the program make competitive Peace Corps applicants.

Saint Michael’s College has previously partnered with the Peace Corps to offer its Master’s International program, which provides graduate studies for incoming Peace Corps volunteers at more than 80 leading academic institutions nationwide.

Saint Michael’s College recently ranked No. 20 among top volunteer-producing colleges and universities across the country, with 9 alumni currently volunteering worldwide. Since the agency’s founding in 1961, 183 Saint Michael’s alumni have served in the Peace Corps.