SJP Grad Joins Peace Corps

"I said goodbye, I cried, and then I walked into a room of strangers, my new 54-person support system and family for the next three months and beyond."

Every year, a small group of people from across America experience a moment similar to this one. They are headed in disparate directions and most will never cross paths with each other. But they all share an important path and identity; they are all members of the Peace Corps.

For SJP graduate Sarah Smith '15, her Peace Corps journey has landed her in Mozambique. She arrived in late August and began her 27-month stint just months removed from walking across the graduation stage at NYU and after traveling nearly 6,500 miles from home on a 15-hour flight.

But Sarah's journey actually began well before she took that long flight. Her family raised her in a culture of service where it became second nature to join in any endeavor dedicated to serving others. As a student at SJP, Sarah was heavily involved in all offerings of outreach in the School community, including traveling to the Dominican Republic for an international service immersion during April break of her senior year. She carried this tendency into her college career where she eventually traveled on a similar service immersion trip to Belize, as well as served at Jumpstart NYU, an organization that trains college students to help preschoolers in low-income communities build the literacy and social skills they need for lifelong learning.

As Sarah approached her senior year, she knew that serving in the Peace Corps was where she felt called. It took a year of applications and interviews, visas and clearances to complete a process that whittles down a pool of applicants around 20,000 to fill fewer than 4,000 positions. Sarah was thrilled to learn of her eventual acceptance and placement within the program, and had just a short period of time to prepare for her departure a mere three months after graduating from college.

Since the Peace Corps' inception in 1961, 235,000 Americans have served in 141 countries. Throughout these postings in the developing world, the Peace Corps aims to reduce the influence of deadly disease, introduce modern agricultural techniques, improve access to education--with an emphasis on equal education for girls, and preserve natural environments. Volunteers in Mozambique, Sarah among them, are focused on projects in education and health.

Over the course of her first few months in-country, Sarah has been working on her Portuguese, settling in with her host family, and learning about local life and Mozambican culture. This training time will last until the end of November, when Sarah will travel to her permanent site.

Her blog posts indicate both nerves and excitement, as well as a strong dedication to her work. She writes, "Peace Corps Volunteers take the thought that life could be better—for everyone—and hear it not as a complaint, but as a committed, directed call to action."

If you're interested in keeping up with Sarah, you can follow along with her excellent, informative blog. We look forward to hearing more from Sarah and wish her the best as she carries out the mission of the Peace Corps!

Sarah Smith ’15 (second from the right) stands with her host family and a few other volunteers after a long day of cross-sharing cultural meals and traditions.