“The Peace Corps has changed millions of lives. 200,000 Americans have worked shoulder to shoulder with people in a vastly different society and culture,” Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams said to a room packed with students and community members on Wednesday.
Williams along with Congressman Aaron Schock and William Lane, Director for Government Affairs at Caterpillar, visited Bradley to share their experiences during an informational session about the Peace Corps and global economy.
“The Peace Corps has meant everything to me, it truly has,” Williams said. “I graduated from college and was prepared to teach high school, but I heard a man on the radio talking about the Peace Corps. The idea of doing something in another country attracted me. I joined, and it changed my life.”
The Peace Corps offers volunteers many valuable opportunities and lessons, Williams said.
“When you’re in the Peace Corps, you find yourself in situations you’d never imagine being in. It’s a good opportunity to be in a leadership position early on in your career, as well as develop great teamwork skills.”
Schock said he is a big supporter of the Peace Corps.
“You can give back so much by doing what some would say is so little,” he said. “So many people on the planet live with so much less than you or I do. It’s really the good men and women in our country that allows for our nation to be peaceful and not have to go to war.”
Lane said he agreed.
“There are a lot of ways we can engage and make the world better,” he said. “We’ve always sent a lot of our exports to poor countries, and that’s where the growth is. Peace Corps has the software and Caterpillar has the hardware.”
The value in the Peace Corps comes from its volunteers’ experiences, Willams said.
“There’s no difference between dedication and results between now and 50 years ago,” he said. “Technology has changed, however, and this changes the way we carry out our programs. The experience of our volunteers is what makes the Peace Corps so valuable.”
Junior political science major Mike Kittleson said he was excited to go to the event and learn more about the Peace Corps.
“I came because I wanted to learn more about the Peace Corps,” he said. “I had a general idea of what it was about, but I wanted to see more. I was hoping there would have been more specifics on how to join, but I still have another year at Bradley so I’m in no rush.”
Junior finance major Margaret Drisi said she had also been looking forward to learning more about the organization.
“I’m very interested in joining the Peace Corps,” she said. “I’ve always been an active volunteer, and I’m interested in doing more.”
Drisi said she learned everything she wanted to at the event.
“[Williams] actually answered one of my questions,” she said. “I wanted to know if it was required to know another language to join, and his response answered my question perfectly. [The event] was great.”