Emily Reitenauer, a 2010 Millersville alumnus who graduated with an international studies and government double major talked to Dr. Kirsten Bookmiller’s Global Humanitarian class on her work with the Peace Corps. Reitenauer received the international studies scholarship when she was attending Millersville.
Reitenauer was one of the first people to study at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa through Millersville Global Education. She worked with AIDS orphans and HIV-positive moms when studying abroad.
“It stays with you,” Reitenauer said.
She planned to be a lawyer in international law. Instead, Reitenauer wanted to do development work. The kind of career she wanted required one to two years of international experience and a master’s degree.
Reitenauer received her master’s degree at Rutgers through Master’s International Program in the Peace Corps. Interested students can get their master’s while in the Peace Corps with specialized work. Reitenauer’s unique experience was studying on campus for one year in an accelerated program. She was also required to take an internship.
Sometimes students in Master’s International Program come back from their work abroad and complete their master’s. The program allows people to pick from over 80 schools.
Created by Kennedy in 1961 by an executive order, the Peace Corps serves in 64 countries. Reitenauer joked saying “see, [executive orders] are not always horrible.” The Peace Corps is a 27 month program with three months of training and two years of placement. The U.S. government pays for medical insurance, a monthly allowance and housing. It is an intensive application process, but volunteers get a top three choice of countries they want to be sent to.
The Peace Corps currently have 6,818 volunteers. Volunteers have to meet with Department of State, prior to their placement abroad. Volunteers work as consultants, technical advisors and teachers. They work in schools, NGOs, government offices, clinics, hospitals and communities. One goal is ultimately cultural exchange. This means teaching people about Americans teaching Americans about a host country.
All volunteers go to one city in the host country and live with a host family for three months. This is usually language training for three months. Reitenauer was placed in Botswana which has the second highest HIV rate. She was working as a technical advisor under the health organization in Botswana.
She worked with Bakgatla Bolokang Matshelo, which translates to ”they save lives.” The organization provided homecare services and hospice for HIV victims. Also, Reitenauer helped create a youth group focused on economic development. She had boys blow up condoms to stop them from complaining that they are small. No one in the community is teaching the teenagers sex education.
During her time, Reitenauer lived in a protected compound. Volunteers receive two vacation days a month and can save them up.
“You get to travel for cheap” Reitenauer said. There are discounted trips around the host country and also internationally.
The Peace Corps issues all their volunteers phones so they can keep in touch with family and community members. Volunteers are required to send quarterly reports to the Peace Corps from their personal laptops. After 27 months of service, the US government sets aside money for Peace Corps volunteers to get them back on their feet.
Reitenauer has a plan for her future. She extended her service to a third year with US Agency for International Development, still placed in Botswana. She plans to live in the US part time and work with USAID.