Peace Corps lecture celebrates MSU legacy of service

Last week, members of the MSU and Bozeman communities gathered in Reid Hall for an evening of conversation about the Peace Corps and MSU’s legacy of service with the organization.

Associate Director of Volunteer Recruitment and Selection Helen Lowman opened the lecture by commending Montana’s strong culture of service. She stated that since 1961, the year the organization was founded, 1,400 Montanans and 455 MSU alumni have served in the Peace Corps.

A return volunteer herself, Lowman served in a small village in Thailand on the border of Laos and Cambodia from 1988 to 1991. She emphasized the Peace Corps’ mission of promoting world peace and friendship through an anecdote about her experience of receiving the gift of a live turkey to butcher and eat one Thanksgiving while abroad.

Beyond the quirky and memorable cultural exchanges, however, Peace Corps volunteers collaborate with local governments to address changing and complex needs in education, health, environment, community economic development, youth development and agriculture.

Also participating in the evening’s events was MSU alumnus Thomas Geraghty from Zambia, who, despite it being 3:30 a.m. in his sphere of the world, spoke to attendees through Skype about his current work with the Corps.

After three months of language, cultural and technical training, Geraghty began collaborating with the Department of Fisheries in Zambia to work in rural aquaculture promotion, as well as with the Centers for Disease Control for HIV and malaria prevention.

Despite living a rural lifestyle with a host family, Geraghty admits he is treated like a king. “They heat my bath water for me,” he laughed.

Grant Jamieson, a local business owner and MSU alumnus who served in Bansko, Bulgaria from 2010 to 2012, also spoke about his experience working in a national park with the Peace Corps.

“I probably earned about fifty cents an hour, but … that was the wealthiest I’ve ever felt.” Jamieson added, “You don’t make any money, but you feel so rich.”

For more information about the Peace Corps, contact Erin Erickson, west coast regional representative, at eerickson2@peacecorps.gov.