Linfield’s lack of Peace Corps

Kaelia Neal, Freelance writer

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Linfield student volunteering for the Peace Corps has steadily decreased over the last four years.

Since 1961, Linfield has produced a total of 111 Peace Corps volunteers to serve the United Sates in missions abroad. There were 12 in 2011, 14 in 2012, seven in 2013, and five in 2014.

With just four students in 2015, there has been a steady decrease of Peace Corps volunteers from Linfield over the past few years.

That decline seems to be at odds with Linfield’s stated mission. According to the “About Linfield” page on the college’s website,

“Linfield is nationally recognized for its … distinctive international emphasis. Linfield educates students to become global citizens.”

Linfield’s Career Development office, which oversees Peace Corps recruiting at Linfield, could not say why the steady decrease of volunteers has occurred. The leaders of the office were unavailable to comment.

Despite the decline, some students are still interested in joining the Peace Corps.

Jake Mihelich, a sophomore at Linfield, is considering volunteering.

Mihelich wants to “serve a community that is potentially less fortunate” and “experience culture outside the United States.”

“The Peace Corps will help put me on the right path,” Mihelich said.

To prepare for the Peace Corps, Mihelich is majoring in communication arts and minoring in Spanish. He will be studying abroad in fall 2015 in Costa Rica.

Linfield is not in the top ranks in the country for current volunteers in the Peace Corps among colleges and universities in the United States, the Peace Corps said.

Among the top schools in Oregon are Lewis & Clark College, tied for the No. 20 with nine alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps, and Portland State University, ranked No. 4 with 13 alumni.

Other schools in the Northwest Conference that made the top ranks in the Peace Corps included University of Puget Sound, tied at No. 3 with 16 volunteers, and Willamette University tied at No. 10 with 11 volunteers.

The Peace Corps is a federal government program that sends volunteers abroad to help meet the needs of peoples in other countries.
Currently 6,818 volunteers and trainees are serving in 64 countries. Most work in education and health.

“Volunteers work at the grassroots level toward sustainable change that lives on long after their service—at the same time becoming global citizens and serving their country,” according to the agency’s website.

“When they return home, volunteers bring their knowledge and experiences—and a global outlook—that enriches the lives of those around them.”

Twice a year Pravin Mallavaram, a Portland-based representative of the Peace Corps, visits Linfield to recruit and provide students with information on how to join.

Mallavaram does not know why there has been a decrease in volunteers from Linfield into the Peace Corps.

“From my understanding, I can’t say much has changed from our approach to Linfield,” Mallavaram said.

He will be at Linfield all day Tuesday, March 17, in Walker Hall. An informational session will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.