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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

WSU’s Peace Corps Prep Program: Aspiring to Something Greater Than Yourself


Twenty-seven months. One-hundred and fifteen weeks. Eight-hundred and twenty-one days. That’s how long Rachel Roque (WSU ’19) will be spending in Morocco, North Africa. She will have a life changing, volunteering experience, courtesy of the Peace Corps.

Roque says, “I chose the Peace Corps instead of study abroad programs because of the volunteering. I am acting as a liaison or a representative for the United States. I don’t want there to be an exchange of currency for the work that I’m doing. I’m doing this of my own accord and I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to give me anything for it.” 

What is the Peace Corps?

The Peace Corps is a government volunteer program intended for people who are looking to initiate change and immerse themselves in another culture. It has three goals: to help people in other countries meet their need for trained men and women, to help people of other cultures understand Americans better, and, in turn, help Americans understand people of other cultures.

The Peace Corps extends its influence into 141 countries and operates in the realm of five main sectors: Community and Economic Development, Education, Health, Environment, and Youth in Development. 

How does the Peace Corps relate to study abroad?

The two aren’t explicitly connected. It’s an experience that is separate from WSU and run by the United States Government. Most students don’t apply until after they graduate from college. However, WSU is unique because the International Programs Office offers a two-year Peace Corps Prep Program that greatly increases a student’s chance of being accepted into the Peace Corps once they graduate. 

How will this fit into my WSU schedule?

This program is designed with busy students in mind. It provides assistance regarding language, cultural, and professional development, as well as service requirements. However, most of these can be completed through major and core courses.

Roque herself is an Economics major and received her certification in Community Economic Development. Meaning most of her classes already counted toward the Prep Program’s requirements. Roque says, “I feel like the program basically fell into my lap. Yet, it helped me focus more on things that will be applicable when I go abroad.” 

Once completing WSU’s Prep Program, Roque applied to the Peace Corps in November and received her official acceptance in March 2019. She’ll depart for this adventure in less than a year later, on September 8th.

For three months Roque will live with a host family, attending classes and receiving language training. After this brief integration period she will be relocated to her official site for two years.

Although Roque was certified in Community Economic Development, she applied to the program in the Youth in Development sector. “It really matters what you’re passionate about,” She says, “I feel like they really hear that in your application.” Roque explained her Youth in Development placement by comparing it to a YMCA, with before and after school programs.

Roque will spend a lot of time working with woman and children, as well as teaching English. Pending enough funds from a grant or the Peace Corps itself, Roque hopes to pursue a project she is passionate about, such as creating a small library or a radio station for the Moroccan community she’s working with. 


Roque isn’t intimated by the idea of being surrounded by such a vastly different culture in an area much more rural than what she’s used to. In fact, these are the two things she’s looking forward to the most. “I’ve always wanted to live with just the bare minimum so I can find a way to enjoy the people that I’m around and focus on something that’s bigger than myself.” 

Surprisingly, her biggest worry is returning to the United States at the conclusion of her Peace Corps experience. Reverse culture shock can be intense, but the Peace Corps tries to ease this transition by providing a readjustment stipend so participants can find a place to live, get a job, and secure transportation. Before that, Roque will have eight-hundred and twenty-one days accomplish her goals and make a difference at the same time. 

For more information on WSU’s Peace Corps Prep Program, visit the International Programs Office (Parenzo 130) or

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