“I have always thought that being exposed to other cultures opens one’s mind and understanding....” — Anna Zauner
Anna Zauner, 22, of Skillman, departs for Guatemala this month to begin training as a Peace Corps volunteer.
“I have always been motivated to help others,” she says. “I had worked on many different week-long service projects through my church youth group and had always left them feeling as though there was so much more I could have done.”
The Peace Corps immerses the volunteers in the society they are helping, which takes the service to the next level.
“While living in the community, I will be able to truly understand the culture and challenges, and to better help and serve the community,” Zauner says.
Zauner is the daughter of Jim and Julia Zauner of Sycamore Lane in Skillman and a graduate of Montgomery High School. She attended The College of New Jersey, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in May. Prior to joining the Peace Corps, she worked as a certified home health aide, a lacrosse coach, and a research assistant.
Zauner will be one of 135 volunteers in Guatemala. During their service, volunteers will conduct projects in Spanish and learn to speak local languages, including Ixil, Kaqchikel, K’iche, and Mam.
Zauner will work in cooperation with the local people and partner organizations on sustainable, community-based development projects that improve the lives of people in Guatemala.
“I believe the work I will be doing in the Peace Corps will benefit both my personal and professional aspirations,” Zauner says. “I have always thought that being exposed to other cultures opens one’s mind and understanding. My service in the Peace Corps would be the most exposure and integration into another culture that I have ever experienced.”
Peace Corps volunteers live and work for 27-month terms of service in more than 60 nations, and receive a living stipend, extensive language and technical training, and financial benefits including eligibility for student loan forgiveness and graduate school fellowships after service.
The Peace Corps seeks additional applicants to fill hundreds of requests for volunteers in programs worldwide beginning in spring 2020. Open positions with an October 1 application deadline are available in the fields of education, health, agriculture, community economic development, youth in development, and the environment.
Peace Corps applicants have the option of choosing to serve where the need for their skills is greatest, or applying directly to open programs in specific countries. Accepted applicants live with host families and receive three months of training before being assigned to a community in their country of service.
This year, more than 165 New Jersey residents currently serve as Peace Corps volunteers. More than 5,400 NJ residents have served since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961.
The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the US to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, the environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy.
Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 235,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide.
To learn more about how to get involved with Peace Corps, visit peacecorps.gov. ■