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Which American universities produced the most Peace Corps volunteers for 2017?

Sawadeekrap, volunteers. Image via Shutterstock.

Answer: University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), American University and Denison College.

According to a study released by the Peace Corps on Tuesday, these universities topped the service organisation’s 2017 Top Volunteer-producing Schools in their respective categories: Large, Medium and Small colleges and universities.

The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the United States government, where a participant with a college degree is trained for three months to work abroad in social and economic development. Established in 1961 by former President John F. Kennedy, the program aims to promote “world peace and friendship” to help people in interested countries “in meeting their needs for trained manpower”.

The University of California, Berkeley maintains its spot as the all-time highest producer of Peace Corps volunteers in the country with more than 3,600 of its alumni serving as volunteers since the organisation’s inception in 1961.

UW-Madison currently has 87 Badgers volunteering in 40 countries around the world. It is only second to UC Berkeley in terms of all-time number of volunteers produced, with 3,239 alumni having served since 1961.

Among medium schools, American University tops the list of medium schools with 74 alumni volunteers, followed by other colleges in the District of Columbia-area. Denison University nabbed the no. 1 small volunteer-producing title with 16 alumni volunteers, jumping 13 spots from no. 14 in 2016.

Among graduate schools, Tulane University remains the top volunteer-producing graduate school for the third year running, sharing its title with American University with 20 alumni volunteers this year.

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Chance to shine abroad

For the volunteers, the Peace Corps is a chance to travel and discover new cultures, while using their skills and experience to serve a bigger, altruistic purpose. Among its initiatives were the eradication of malaria in Africa through control efforts, equal education opportunities for girls and environment-focused programs.

“Peace Corps service is an unparalleled leadership opportunity that enables college and university alumni to use the creative-thinking skills they developed in school to make an impact in communities around the world,” Sheila Crowley, the Acting Peace Corps Director said.

“Many college graduates view Peace Corps as a launching pad for their careers because volunteers return home with the cultural competency and entrepreneurial spirit sought after in most fields.”

Holly Dancy is one of them. She was looking for opportunities to make connections with her degree subject in the real world. Armed with an international studies degree, she made the move to volunteer with the Peace Corps in 2014 and set off to immerse herself in a different culture as well as to learn a new language and work with children as a teacher.

Dancy is now serving in the Southern Province of Rwanda as an English teacher for high school students. The experience has already proven richer than she could have predicted.

“I decided to join the Peace Corps, because I wanted the opportunity to teach and also travel and see different cultures,” Dancy said to Washington Post.

“The warmth that I get from the people here in my village — the families have basically adopted me.”

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Another notable volunteers was the U.S. Democratic Party’s senator, Christopher J. Dodd, an alumnus from Providence College,who served two years in the Dominican Republic back in the 60s.

He later became an advocate for the organisation in Capitol Hill.

“The Peace Corps stands today as one of the singular accomplishments of the 20th century. Let us never lose that spirit, that idealism, that ambition that led a young president of a young nation to ask a generation to serve,” Dodd told the Senate in 2009.

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