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Published: Wednesday, 10/1/2008

BGSU is new site of Peace Corps Fellows program

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green State is the most recent university to become a Peace Corps Fellows site.

As one of about 47 universities in the country - the second in Ohio - with the program, BGSU offers returning Peace Corps volunteers tuition assistance with graduate studies and internships to help in high-need communities in the United States.

"What they're bringing into the classroom is so valuable because they've had that international experience," said Margaret Zoller Booth, who helped establish BGSU as a fellows site.

Ms. Booth, an associate professor in leadership and policy studies at BGSU who served in the Peace Corps, said the university's new master of arts degree in cross-cultural and international education, called the MACIE program, was a perfect fit with the

Peace Corps' mission.

The fellows program, now in its third year, is designed to investigate education from a broad international and cross cultural perspective.

It's geared toward the traditional schoolteacher to better understand students and parents of different cultures and people interested in educational development either here or in other countries, Ms. Booth said.

Ms. Booth will be able to relate to the fellows, who can enroll in BGSU's MACIE program starting next fall, because she served in the Peace Corps teaching in a girls' high school in Kenya for the 1983 and 1984 school years.

"The BGSU program to me seems to be quite unique," she said. "Almost every fellows administrator said, 'Oh, that's an obvious draw. You're going to get lots of applicants.'"

Other universities have programs such as business, geography, public health, and urban planning.

The fellows program helps returning volunteers follow through on the overlooked third goal of the Peace Corps, which is bringing back home the understanding of other cultures.

The other goals are to help people in underdeveloped countries and to promote understanding of the United States abroad.

And since the MACIE program requires an internship, the Peace Corps volunteers can bring their cultural understanding to high needs areas in northwest Ohio by interning here, Ms. Booth said.

"It turns out to be really a nice reciprocal relationship," she said.

The university gets enthusiastic students with cultural experience to bring into the classroom, and the returning volunteers get tuition assistance to pursue graduate studies.

And for the Peace Corps, word of mouth on campuses is the best recruiting tools, said Christine Torres, public affairs specialist in the agency's Chicago regional office.

"For the Peace Corps, it is also great to have these types of partnerships and relationships with top universities because it does help expose more students at that university to the Peace Corps," she said.

BGSU has eight graduates currently serving in the Peace Corps and 199 that have served since the agency was formed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, Ms. Torres said.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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