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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Peace Corps director to speak on campus

For those students who haven’t discovered what their passion in life might be, the Peace Corps offers a valuable experience, said Daniel Evans, UC Davis alumnus and country director of Peace Corps Mexico.

“The reality is, there are a lot of things we like to do but we’re not sure what our passion is and how to pay the bills with our passion,” Evans said. “The Peace Corps is a great experience for people who want to learn new skills and challenge themselves, particularly people who are graduating and aren’t sure what they’re passionate about.”

Evans will be speaking at UC Davis on Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. in Hart Hall, room 1130.

Evans majored in biology but didn’t have a clear career path in mind, so he decided to serve in the Peace Corps to learn about himself and the world around him. He was assigned to be an agricultural advisor in the Dominican Republic, which got him interested in development and sustainability.

He then returned to the U.S. and got a master’s degree in international agricultural development and a Ph.D. in ecology from UC Davis. After working in Mexico for several years, he applied to be a country director. He was assigned to Guinea in Africa for one and a half years but due to political turmoil in September 2009, the program was shut down. Since then, he has been serving as country director of Mexico.

“[The Peace Corps] is a great opportunity to provide service to other people that aren’t as fortunate as Americans,” Evans said. “It’s a great chance to learn new skills and it’s one of the few opportunities to travel and live in another culture for an extended period of time while integrating into the culture.”

The Peace Corps provides three months of training for volunteers to prepare them to understand the language, culture and how to keep safe regardless of medical issues present in the nation, Evans said.

UC Davis ranks 16th in the nation for the number of alumni who have served as Peace Corps Volunteers with 1,350 since 1961, said Nathan Sargent, Peace Corps public affairs specialist. UC Davis has its own Peace Corps recruiter in the Internship and Career Center and offers master’s degrees in partnership with Peace Corps in engineering and agriculture.

“Peace Corps is a great launch pad for a career,” Sargent said. “Volunteers return to the U.S. fluent in a new language and with two years’ international leadership experience.”

According to a Peace Corps fact sheet released Jan. 4, 2011, there are 8,655 people volunteering in 77 countries. The main program sectors are education, health, business, environment, youth development and agriculture. The two largest sectors are education and health.

Volunteers receive benefits including all living expenses fully paid, transportation, training, medical care, $7,425 upon completion and non-competitive hiring status for federal employment.

“Peace Corps has been something that’s shaped myself in many ways,” he said. “It has increased my willingness to travel and confidence that I can step into a different culture and be effective and happy.”

AKSHAYA RAMANUJAM can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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