The Peace Corps published the 2015 top volunteer-producing schools on Wednesday Feb. 18 based on fiscal year 2014 data as of Sept. 30, 2014, placing Geneseo 17th among fellow mid-sized universities. This moves the college’s ranking up from 22nd in 2014.
Seventeen alumni are currently abroad in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Nepal, Paraguay and eight others throughout Africa. Since the agency’s operations began in 1961, 253 alumni have served overseas.
Trevor Ramsey-Macomber ’09 volunteered overseas in the Federated States of Micronesia from 2009-2011. Ramsey-Macomber spent time in the state of Chuuk, where he served as an English as a second language teacher and worked on community development.
After two years of devoted work, Ramsey-Macomber successfully restructured much of the education system on his island, sharing knowledge with local teachers and encouraging younger students to attend school. He also aided the community in completing a basketball court for the youth to partake in activity and exercise.
Although he explained that he finds it difficult to encapsulate all his experiences abroad, Ramsey emphasized the significance of the relationships he made with the local people of Pa.
“The building of bonds of affection with the people that you’re with is the single most essential and important lasting piece,” he said.
Ramsey noted that he was motivated to spend these years volunteering by his personal goals and previous experience with community service.
“I was interested in going overseas and spending time in a culture that was completely different from my own,” he said. “I also gained an insight into what service meant through my work with Livingston Cares at Geneseo. That was definitely a large influence on my future decisions to volunteer.”
Schools can prepare students for Peace Corps application eligibility by making a breadth of volunteer experiences available, including various opportunities within the local community and beyond. Geneseo’s Center for Community sponsors programs like Livingston Cares––which inspired Ramsey-Macomber and volunteering at the Teresa House.
“I absolutely think there is a link between students who partake in service here and those who join the Peace Corps,” Coordinator of Student Volunteerism Jonathan Macko said. “It is a popular option for those right after graduation. It gives them an opportunity to live out their core values of altruism and I like to think that we help foster that.”
According to Peace Corps Public Affairs Specialist Emily Webb ’13, the majority of the schools placing within the top 20 have recruitment offices within the area.
“We have one based in central New York that sends recruits to colleges within the region,” she said. “We like to look for students who are competitive through experience, with a specialty in areas such as education, agriculture or health.”
By ranking in the top 20, the Geneseo alumni represent what Webb described as the “best and brightest” Americans volunteering abroad.
“These people will build up other nations through community service, promote a better understanding of America and its people for the locals in those countries and return with a global understanding to share,” she said. “That is what the Peace Corps is all about.”