Jessie Grosshart, senior history and English major, was recently accepted into the Peace Corps. Beginning in July, she will spend 27 months living in South Africa and working with the youth of the village that will be her new home.
The process for acceptance into the Peace Corps is a long and strenuous one. Jessie began working on her application in August. It is necessary to be very knowledgeable on the Peace Corps and the country in which you will work in order to create a legitimate application. After about five months of working on it, Grosshart submitted her application in December and waited until she heard back. Grosshart interviewed for a position in early February. And then, one day in late February, she was sitting in the dining hall and received a phone call from a Peace Corps representative, informing her that she had been accepted.
Jessie tells me that this was the best phone call of her life. Growing up, she knew she wanted to work overseas.
“I knew that I wanted to do some sort of service abroad. When I was little I thought that would be through missionary work but as I’ve gotten older I’ve kind of realized there are some problems inherent in some kinds of missionary work,” said Grosshart.
She described missionary work as operating on an “us and them dichotomy” which she dislikes. The Peace Corps, however, has a very different approach.
“Peace Corps really fights against that. It’s based on a cultural exchange,” said Grosshart.
She admires this and it was important to her in making the decision to pursue a career in the Peace Corps.
“You are helping in something that is needed and has been asked for as opposed to a need that you see yourself,” said Grosshart.
Grosshart is not yet sure what town she will be living in but she does know that she will be teaching English to kids who live in whatever village she is assigned to in South Africa.
Two aspects of the Peace Corps and its objectives are to spread “American goodwill” and to provide a “cultural exchange.”
Spending 27 months in South Africa, Jessie hopes to accomplish more than just teaching kids English.
“I really want to get that understanding of the culture there and I want to be able to provide that understanding to the people around me [especially those in America],” she said.
Grosshart has a desire to show South Africans the better nature of the United States as far as its willingness to help others, but she also hopes to show them a personal goodwill that transcends nationality. She ultimately hopes to be able to spread a mutual understanding and help those in her life to embrace differences.
Although the application process took a while, the process from here starts picking up. She has already begun to prepare herself for the experience, doing some online training and web seminars. She will ship out on July 5 and begin a three month training period. After this, she will begin working. Grosshart will be living with a family in South Africa and will be fully immersed in the culture. She will soon embark on her new career, doing what she has always wanted to do.
After her 27 months of service is up, Grosshart says she plans to either apply to graduate school or renew her service in the Peace Corps.