Brown will send 20 volunteers to the Peace Corps this year, making the University the 25th largest recruiter among medium-size colleges nationwide, according to a Peace Corps statement released earlier this month. Last year, the University was ranked 15th, with 24 volunteers, according to last year's list of feeder schools.
"Serving in the Peace Corps has become an increasingly competitive endeavor," Elizabeth Chamberlain, public affairs specialist for the Peace Corps' Boston regional office, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. Chamberlain said the Peace Corps received over 15,000 applications in 2009, an 18 percent increase from the previous year.
Alexander Labinov '06, a former volunteer who spent two years in the Republic of Moldova, said that when he first applied to the Peace Corps he had an image of "going somewhere in Africa and trying to build a bridge." While in Moldova, Labinov said he taught business seminars on microfinance to women to give them more confidence to work in a male-dominated field. "I knew it would be an experience," he said. "And hopefully, in that experience I would have helped at least one person."
Labinov said he thought Brown students were interested in serving in the Peace Corps because they "want to save the world." He added that he thought such an idea "can be viewed as incredibly naive, but I think it's just idealistic."
Jeanine Chiu '10, who has applied to join the Peace Corps after she graduates and is awaiting medical approval, said she was always familiar with the Peace Corps, even though she grew up in Singapore. "The Peace Corps never had a presence there," she said. "But I think it goes to show how widespread and well-known the program is."
Chiu, a development studies concentrator, said the Peace Corps reinforces what she is studying at Brown, adding that she wants to put what she has "theoretically learned" into practice during her volunteer stint. She said she was especially drawn to the Peace Corps because the program "has a great focus on integrating into the community, which I think is very important in order to understand the local context, especially if your goal is to help people.