Sometimes, in order to see the status quo, it takes a little distance. When MU’s Peace Corps Fellows return to the United States, they bring their global perspectives to the University of Missouri campus in order to open the minds of students, staff, and community members. Nathan Jensen, Jennifer Keller, Amy Bowes, and Andy Craver are among this year’s fellows. Their work in distant countries has changed them, helping them grow. Now they’re sharing their experience and newfound attitudes with MU.
A study published in 1990 showed students less engaged in community service than ever in American history. “I found this a devastating and sad fact,” explains Anne-Marie Foley. Her original charge for the Honors College in 1990—to develop innovative programming for honors students—has expanded from “a desk and a phone” and a handful of students to a program that involves 10% of the MU undergraduate population. Drawing upon her own personal commitment to working with the elderly, Foley started gathering groups of students from the Honors College (“bribing” them with free pizza) to share their views.
As part of their fellowship at MU, the volunteers need to come up with a project that benefits the local community. Toward that end they have developed a class to help globalize students, and are working on organizing a service-learning trip. “The idea is to connect what we are doing in class with the volunteer work they are doing in order to see the reasons people volunteer and how a community looks at a problem and pools their resources to solve it,” Craver says.
Whether their work seeks to counter domestic violence and ethnic genocide, identify cancer treatments, or employ literature and music to understand humanity, these MU faculty describe in their own words why this work is important to society.