October 02, 2009
Peace Corps allow you to 'be your own boss'
Riehl also delivered a formal presentation for students interested in the Peace Corps later in the day.
Riehl is a former Peace Corps volunteer and now works as a recruiter for the organization.
He has worked in the organization for more than three years and commented that the most fundamental thing about the Peace Corps is "how it connects [different] people" who, after a two-year period of service, become inseparable.
He spoke in detail about his work in the eastern and central Pennsylvania regions, excluding Philadelphia, a job he said keeps him on the road nine weeks out of a semester.
In any given week he visits three to five schools much like Susquehanna.
Riehl also noted that his experience in the Ukraine during his own service period with the organization led to his current position.
Before joining the Peace Corps, Riehl worked at as a literature professor at Loyola College in Baltimore, attended law school and worked as a partner at a law firm among other jobs.
"I'm just doing what I like to do," he said.
Riehl highlighted two major things that the Peace Corps, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this coming March, is really about bringing skills to developing countries that request help and a cultural exchange experience that he called a "bridge of peace."
Riehl said the intention of the presentation he gave was threefold: he explained what the Peace Corps is about, what makes a good volunteer and how to be a competitive applicant.
"The Peace Corps is an independent agency of the federal government that places U.S. citizens 18 years and older in international volunteer assignments, 27 months in length in developing countries. Volunteers are selected on the basis of skills and suitability," according to information obtained from the Center for Career Services.
The Employment and Internship Fair was held in the Garrett Sports Complex Thursday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., and the presentation that followed was located in the Shearer Dining Rooms between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Registration was required and approximately 20 students attended.
Speaking on the topic of what makes a good volunteer, Riehl stressed the importance of wanting to help people, liking people, adaptability and independence.
When working in the Peace Corps, Riehl said, "You are your own boss."
He also stressed the need for "normal" people: average, everyday people who can best express what America is about to nationals in foreign countries.
The Peace Corps is not looking for superstars, he said, but people looking to do good work for themselves and others.
Riehl also mentioned motivation statements, which he said needed to show a balance of self-driven involvement and care for others. One or the other quality, he said, is not enough.
Acceptance to the Peace Corps is a competitive process and Riehl offered several bits of advice for applicants.
He made noted that combining education with real life experience is key, whether it is from internships, jobs or volunteerism.
Intermediate Spanish, basic French and some Russian are often crucial requirements for certain programs, depending on which part of the world you are stationed.
For Spanish, Central and South America are a natural fit; for French, West Africa; and for Russian, Eastern Europe and East Asia.
Riehl also noted that tutoring English as a second language for a minimum of three months would qualify an applicant for a secondary teaching program.
Similarly, work with HIV/AIDS or generally health care studies for the same minimum length of time would qualify you for their public health education program.
Community organization and involvement are pluses as well. The Peace Corps has a large community services program.
"In developing countries, fundraising is a foreign concept," and having applicants with fundraising experience is a great advantage, Riehl said.
Riehl said he came to Susquehanna with the intention of showing our students why the Peace Corps may be the right program for them.
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