In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, the Career Center is sponsoring an exhibit at the Dining Hall, featuring alumni experiences with the organization. The college’s records indicate that approximately 40 alumni have volunteered over the years.
Each day, Dec. 12-16, news.hiram.edu will profile one alumni experience. Please continue to check back, and be sure to stop by the Dining Hall exhibit by Dec. 16 to learn even more.
Name: Bethany Stoian ‘06
Major at Hiram: Spanish
In August 2006, almost directly after graduating, Stoian joined the Peace Corps, where she taught English as a Second Language until November 2008.
Why did you decide to join the Peace Corps?
“I’ve always been attracted to the possibility of seeing the world,” Stoian said.
At the outset of her senior year at Hiram, she began contemplating the Peace Corps and the opportunities it offered to live abroad and immerse oneself in foreign cultures and customs. Deciding that there was no better time to travel than now, she joined the Peace Corps after doing research and interviewing returned volunteers.
What are your most vivid memories?
Stoian recalled that much of her work in the Kazakhstan was difficult and sometimes disheartening. One specific time, she poured a good deal of research, time and effort into establishing a girl’s leadership camp in a village near the city of Kyzylorda, only to have the local government deny funding for the project.
She was later relocated to a smaller village, where she was able to implement a smaller, scaled-down version of the project, but her initial goals for the project were never realized.
How did your experience with the Peace Corps enhance your education?
While Stoian has not acted on her original plans to attend grad school since serving in the Peace Corps, her experience has benefited her education in other ways.
“My experience helps me get an edge on my competitors,” she said. “In the Peace Corps I had a wide range of responsibilities. I was a teacher trainer, a community leader and an ambassador for my culture. I developed my own lessons and relied on my own resourcefulness to make my lessons both creative and challenging. Most importantly, I developed problem-solving skills, which has helped me work with a curriculum centered on critical thinking skills.”
How did your Peace Corps experience affect your career decisions?
“When I returned from the Peace Corps, I did not have a clear goal of what I wanted to do right away,” Stoian said.
Soon after returning, she got a job working in special education in the Ohio/Pennsylvania area, but was unsatisfied because she missed teaching English as a second language and traveling. Stoian applied for a job she found through the Peace Corps Hotline Job Newsletter at ChungDahm Learning in South Korea. Her Peace Corps experience gave her an advantage over her competitors, and she landed the position working at a hagwon (an academy) in South Korea, teaching English to students in grades 3-10, where she has worked for the past two years.