Grad Joins Peace Corps to Serve in Ukraine
Monday, July 18, 2011
PHILADELPHIA (July 18, 2011) - Colleen Smith ’11 of Seaville, N.J., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and assigned to a two-year placement in Ukraine. Smith will begin a three-month pre-service training in September, after which she will teach English at the secondary level and introduce her students to the history and culture of the United States.
Smith became interested in joining the Peace Corps after an immersion trip to Northern Ireland in her sophomore year at Saint Joseph’s University. “I was inspired to see that along with government initiatives, private groups working in support of the peace process could make a difference, and that it is possible to actually work for peace, and for those efforts to be successful,” Smith says.
During the first three months of her service, Smith will live with a host family in Ukraine to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. While she is there, Smith will also promote HIV/AIDS prevention and care. The spread of the disease has reached epidemic proportions in Ukraine.
“I think it is an interesting time to be in Ukraine,” says Smith. “After receiving their independence in the early 90s, Ukraine is still a country in transition, moving forward from being a Soviet satellite. I hope my service there will make a difference.”
At Saint Joseph’s, Smith majored in English and Fine and Performing Arts with a concentration in painting. Smith was also involved in service at SJU, and worked as a tutor for adolescents at Urban Bridges at St. Gabriel’s Church, The Welcome Center and Norris Square Neighborhood Project, all located in Philadelphia. She is a graduate of Ocean City High School in Ocean City, N.J.
An elite athlete, Smith joined SJU’s Women’s Rowing Team as a first-year student, rowing in the Varsity 8 in her sophomore, junior and senior years. The team competed in the Henley Regatta in 2010 and won the Atlantic 10 Championship in 2011. This year, Smith and two of her teammates were named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team.
Smith is currently working as a lifeguard in Sea Isle City, N.J., while beginning her language immersion program in Russian and Ukrainian.
President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961 to promote world peace and friendship, providing a venue for Americans to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. Since that time, 200,000+ Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 139 host countries to work on issues ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation.