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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Heller honors Peace Corps

Published: March 11, 2011
Section: Front Page

Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management helped the Peace Corps celebrate its 50th anniversary Tuesday evening, in an event recognizing the service of Heller School volunteers and the work of Peace Corps volunteers nation-wide.

Organized in tribute to former Heller School Director of Admissions and Recruitment and Peace Corps volunteer James Sabourin, the evening hosted speakers such as Dean of the Heller School Lisa Lynch, Brandeis University President Frederick Lawrence and a panel discussion of returned Peace Corps volunteers.

“Heller has had an informal relationship with the Peace Corps for many years,” Margaret Haley, the assistant director of graduate admissions and recruitment for the Heller School said. “We applied to be a Fellows/USA program last fall [and] we were notified of our acceptance close to the New Year, and the formal contract is being signed now.”

According to Haley, the Heller School’s relationship with the Peace Corps has not changed, it has only been codified with an agreement. Now that the relationship has been formalized, the Heller School and the Peace Corps are able to recruit for one another and Brandeis appears on the Peace Corps website.

At the venue for the 50th anniversary celebration, the Heller School featured the winning photographs from the photography contests of Boston-area returned Peace Corps volunteers from their countries of service. The dates of the photographs ranged between 1961, when the Peace Corps was founded, to the present. Every year the Boston-area returned Peace Corps volunteers compile submitted photographs of its members into calendars and greeting cards in the form of a fundraiser. This year’s photography contest was won by Professor Jane Hale (COML).

The Heller School is currently the newest fellow program, and the second academic institution in Massachusetts to form a partnership with the Peace Corps.

“Heller students do not usually join the Peace Corps,” Haley said. “They usually come to us after completing their service. Most of our students have done public and/or community service before returning to graduate school. Most of our international students come from the developing world. They come from the areas where the returned Peace Corps volunteers have served.”

During his opening remarks, Lawrence noted that there are 1,100 international students at Brandeis alone. “It is our privilege to be part of the Peace Corps,” he said.

Following Lawrence, Peter Redmond, deputy associate director for global operations for the Peace Corps, spoke about his time volunteering in Honduras.

“Every one of us brings home so much more than we leave behind,” Redmond said. “The Peace Corps’ most valuable contribution is connecting young leaders to practitioners, and supporting them in their careers.”

Redmond continued to explain that the Peace Corps vision is characterized by youth, and that it is was constructed as a bold challenge for the youth of America by the young, dynamic senator, John F. Kennedy.

“For me,” Redmond explained, “the Peace Corps set me on paths that I only dreamed of. I found myself drawn to the public service that I had learned about as a young man. I learned about another culture, the power of community and about myself.”

The Peace Corps is currently forging new partnerships with universities, colleges, non-profit organizations and government agencies across the United States to promote a culture that evaluates proficiency. “The Peace Corps is more essential than ever because of the inequalities in the world such as poverty, disease and hunger,” Redmond said. “We gain when we give.”

The Peace Corps recently opened programs in Indonesia, Columbia and Sierra Leone. Its success depends on the success of its volunteers, and its partnership with the Heller School continues to reflect the passion of its volunteers, and the success of its programs.

“Development work becomes an integral part of who you are,” concluded Redmond. “It touches your heart. It changes the way the world sees America and the way America sees the world. Development is love in action, and the Peace Corps lasts a lifetime.”