Peace Corps Celebrates International Youth Day
August 12, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 12, 2015 – In honor of International Youth Day today, Peace Corps celebrates volunteers who make a lasting and positive impact on the lives of children and young adults. Peace Corps volunteers are teachers, mentors and friends to youth in communities around the globe. Founded by the UN in 1999, International Youth Day acknowledges the need to engage youth in development initiatives.
Currently, nine percent of volunteers serve in the youth development sector, but many volunteers work on secondary projects that engage and empower children. Below are examples of how Peace Corps volunteers in Cambodia, Albania and Uganda are empowering children to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Peace Corps volunteer Rachel Crabtree of Charlotte, North Carolina, helped lead a co-ed youth camp called Camp L.I.O.N. (Leaders In Our Nation) for 60 high school students from across Cambodia. In partnership with local NGOs, Camp L.I.O.N. improves students’ academic, social and leadership skills by immersing them in four days of activities related to health education and planning for the future. During camp, students fostered friendships and connections with young adults from around the country through educational and fun activities such as t-shirt tie-dyeing and a pizza party.
“Students were able to see a different career option besides farmer, teacher, nurse, market seller, and doctor,” said Crabtree, a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina Charlotte who has been serving in Cambodia since 2013.I think it is great to expose them to different jobs available to them. “For me, one of the best parts of camp was seeing them meet new people from different schools.”
After completing his service in 2008, returned Peace Corps volunteer Joseph Deschenes of Novato, California, created a co-ed summer camp called “Camp No Name” in Albania to promote tolerance and personal growth within youth community members and their families. Each year Deschenes helps currently serving volunteers organize the annual camp, which fosters friendships between Albanian and Roma children and includes educational sessions on topics like personal and oral hygiene.
“This year we served 25 of our kids and saved 100 teeth that normally would have been left to rot, causing much discomfort and pain for the child,” said Deschenes, a graduate of Sonoma State University who served in Albania from 2006 to 2008. “It is our hope that one day PC volunteers will begin having their own Camp No Name's all over Albania (and hopefully one day Kosovo and Macedonia) so that more Roma and Albanian children can meet each other and rise above the prejudice older generations have taught them.”
During her service, returned Peace Corps volunteer Sarah Castagnola of Walnut Creek, Oregon, hosted Uganda’s first Youth Agriculture Camp called Coffee Camp, which empowered youth in her community to consider ways they could help with their families’ coffee farm. Coffee Camp increased campers’ awareness of opportunities in coffee trade and helped them improve their skills and self-confidence. Campers participated in activities that included arts and crafts; coffee farm visits and hands-on organic agricultural training; and educational skill-building sessions.
“At the end of the camp all the campers wrote down goals they wanted to achieve at a personal level, household level and community level,” said Castagnola, a graduate of Portland State University who completed her service in May 2015. “They were excited to go back and teach their friends and community members what they had learned.”
About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.