Peace Corps provides option for students who desire career in service

Kerry Galson

Sinead Heneghan, staff reporter

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In this season of giving, some South students are planning their lives around the idea of giving back and helping others as a future career. Juniors Tori Brown, Tori Lothian and Grace Poulos each want their journey to a career in service to start with the popular international organization known as the Peace Corps.

Although the holiday season may be short, Brown, Lothian and Poulos are planning to extend the season of giving throughout the year with their service.

“Service is helping anyone in any way,” Brown said. “Even doing the little things on a daily basis is also service, because you’re helping the other person and making their life a little easier to live.”

Although the three girls are planning to do service work in the future, they are currently partaking in the many service opportunities that South offers. Poulos is on the board of Key Club while also being a part of Interact with Lothian.

Poulos said, “I love being surrounded by people who have the same passions as me, who really see the value of helping others and don’t just laugh off other people’s poverty or other people’s struggles.”

As well as being involved through South, Brown and Lothian have participated in mission trips through their church. According to Lothian, she and Brown attended a mission trip in Tennessee two summers ago and another service trip last summer to Kansas.

Brown said, “In Kansas, we went to a halfway house and fixed up their backyard that was in awful shape. We cleaned it up and made the yard and the house overall a better place to live in.”

All three girls have plans to attend college and major in areas that would further expand their opportunities in helping others, and they intend to further their interests by joining the Peace Corps when they are out of college.

“I would love to do at least one two-year session through the Peace Corps,” Lothian said. “I love helping other people, and that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life, because I find that is when I am my happiest, and that’s when I feel the most comfortable [with] myself.”

One person who has already pursued the Peace Corps is Kerry Galson, GBN Academy teacher, who went through the program in her late twenties. According to Galson, she had wanted to join the Peace Corps since her sophomore year in high school.

“Once the Peace Corps representatives showed up at my high school during my senior year, I knew [it] was something I wanted to pursue.”

Galson served in Suriname, a country in South America. There were a lot of prejudices amongst the people, which naturally led to a divide between two ethnic groups, called the Hindustani and the Maroons. Galson taught the Maroons English and helped bring the community together.

“A moment I’ll never forget is when the school I was teaching at was canceled for the day, because there was an anaconda in the classroom [due to] the annual spring rainy season,” Galson said.

According to Galson, she realized how grateful she was for the simple things that she often took for granted, such as having access to a fridge or not having to walk half an hour to wash her clothes and dishes.

“It really opened my eyes to the different aspects of life outside American culture,” Galson said.

Brown, Lothian and Poulos plan on serving for the rest of their lives, even after the Peace Corps. According to Brown, she wants to team up with Engineers Without Borders, a non-profit organization, to help make healthy drinking water and basic water sanitation accessible to all people around the world.

“It’s important that we, as a whole world, go out and make sure that people are healthy and have safe water, because we have so much safe water [in Glenview] and we take that so much for granted,” Brown said.

Lothian has a different approach to her career. Lothian wants to be a high school social worker after the Peace Corps.

“High school has been one of the most amazing times of my life, but also one of the most stressful,” Lothian said. “People were there to help me through it and I want to be someone who’s there to help other people.”

Unlike Lothian and Brown, Poulos wants to remain part of the Peace Corps. According to Poulos, once she is done with her service trip, she wants to move up the ladder of the organization. She wants to eventually manage a country and be part of the planning of the organization.

“Everyone who wants to be in the Peace Corps knows exactly what they want to do,” Poulous said. “You’re out in a foreign country for two years by yourself for the sole reason of helping others survive. It shows true dedication.”

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