Annika Bjornson | Staff Writer
Whitworth alum Andrea Hunter has been accepted to work in Lesotho through the Peace Corps as a primary school English teacher. Hunter, who graduated in 2016 with a sociology major and a minor in art, will depart on September 23 to join other volunteer educators for 27 months.
In a Peace Corps news release, Hunter explained what drew her to the organization.
“Peace Corps is one of the few aid organizations that facilitate sustainable grassroot efforts that empower people and help end the cycle of poverty,” she wrote. “It isn't about Peace Corps telling countries what they need, it is about countries telling Peace Corps what they need—and Peace Corps finding a volunteer who can help the community achieve those goals.”
Currently, there are 10 other Whitworth alumni serving in the Peace Corps. Also, since the Peace Corps was founded in 1996, 181 Pirates have served through it all over the world.
Hunter credits her study abroad experience with Whitworth professors Dr. Megan Hershey and Dr. John Yoder in Tanzania as being instrumental to her decision to join the Peace Corps.
“One of the places we visited was the Tanzania Peace Corps office, said Hunter. “In addition to what we learned on the trip -- studying religion, language, contemporary politics of East Africa, and history -- we talked a lot about sustainable aid and how aid functions in developing nations...Talking about how Peace Corps approaches aid really made me want to apply.”
Hershey helps lead this study program, in which students stay with host families for a semester.
According to Hershey, the program, “allows students a window into Tanzanian society.”
“We always make a point of visiting the US Peace Corps’ office in Dar es Salaam where we learn about their many programs in the country. The Peace Corps is a valuable US program because it operates on an individual level, often placing one American in a small community, where relationships can be built and cross-cultural exchange happens naturally,” said Hershey.
This Tanzanian study abroad program will happen again in the spring of 2021.
In addition to Whitworth’s emphasis on an education of mind and heart, Hunter said that she appreciated the different perspectives she learned about during her time at Whitworth.
“I’m constantly challenging everything I read and all the media I absorb, which has helped me to think critically not only in my personal life but also in the working world...Sociology is completely underrated as a major,” said Hunter.
Sociology professor Dr. Mark Killian had Hunter in classes during her time at Whitworth.
“Andrea was a conscientious student who was always concerned with the needs of the world. As such, she sought to apply her education in whatever way she could. I’m not surprised she’s in the Peace Corp,” said Killian.
Hunter will leave Lesotho at the end of her 27 months with a certificate for Teaching English in a Foreign Language. Her husband, Andrew Erland, will be a math and science teacher in a secondary school during their time away as well. The couple has two specific projects they will be focusing on in Lesotho aside from their teaching jobs.
“Our secondary projects will be HIV/AIDs prevention and education and women and gender empowerment,” Hunter said. “[Acc. to avert.org], 23.6 percent of Lesotho is HIV positive, so one of the highest in the world. With that comes issues of sexism, gender violence and minimal career opportunities for young girls. Peace Corps has been looking to change that narrative.”
Peace Corps provides positions in more than 60 countries in a variety of fields, including education, health, agriculture, community economic development, youth in development and the environment.
“If anyone is considering the Peace Corps, get in touch with a recruiter,” Hunter said. “They’re there to help you...Ask questions, because you want to make sure that it’s a right fit for you. If you get the opportunity to study abroad, go somewhere on the edge of your comfort zone, somewhere that’s new and exciting.”
For opportunities to become a global citizen, there will be study abroad advising every Tuesday and Wednesday from 11am-12pm in Hendrick Hall.