While BYU doesn’t make the Top-25 list of Peace Corps volunteer producing universities, BYU students do serve internationally in many ways including LDS missions and through humanitarian organizations.
For the second consecutive year, the University of Colorado Boulder, George Washington University and the University of Mary Washington tied for first as top Peace Corps volunteer-producing universities.
Peace Corps Director, Aaron S. Williams, announced the rankings Jan. 28 and expressed gratitude “to all colleges and universities for their continued support of the Peace Corps and public service.”
BYU is represented in the Peace Corps by a few individuals including Raven KuyKendall, a BYU graduate from Blanding.
KuyKendall is currently serving with the Peace Corps in Ghana.
“I am doing several projects in my town (Humjibre),” she said in an email.
She is working to help locals establish beekeeping as a source of extra income, help bring bikes to Humjibre and introduce a new erosion method to local farmers.
“On top of doing things for my village I have opportunities to participate in youth empowerment camps and HIV and AIDS education programs all over Ghana,” KuyKendall said.
KuyKendall began her Peace Corps service on June 6, 2011 and will remain in Ghana until her service is finished on August 16, 2013.
“It is a long commitment,” KuyKendall said, “but when you live in a country for that long you really get to know and love the people and the culture.”
While BYU students may not significantly populate the Peace Corps, many find other ways to serve.
Haley Eldredge, a geography major from Pleasant Grove signed up with a group called Help International, a non-profit humanitarian organization founded by several BYU faculty members.
Eldredge spent two and a-half months doing several service projects in Uganda including the “Proud to Be a Girl Campaign.”
“We went to secondary schools and talked to the girls about all girl things,” she said.
She said that many health education topics taught in the United States are strictly forbidden for older Ugandan women.
Eldredge and her fellow volunteers also helped a local woman receive government funding for her pig-raising business by building her a bigger pig farm.
Another way BYU students accomplish service on a global scale is by going on missions for the LDS Church. As they spread the gospel, missionaries often find themselves with opportunities to serve those in their area.
When a tsunami hit Chile, Jaden Mitchell, an junior from Portland, Ore., was residing on a small island just off the coast as an LDS missionary.
“At about 4 a.m. I woke up to a knock on the door,” he said. “It was a lady telling us we had to get out now. I could her that the waves were a lot louder and I could hear screaming in the background.”
For about 24 hours after the storm subsided, Mitchell and his companion had no way of communicating with their Mission President who was on the mainland.
“We spend that time doing anything we could for the people,” Mitchell said. “We rounded up food, searched for survivors, and cleaned up as best we could.”
Mitchell, Eldredge and KuyKendall are examples of BYU’s motto “Enter to learn. Go forth to serve.”
“I think there are a lot of people who want to serve here,” Eldredge said. “I think people really want to go see the world and see what they can do.”