As of November 2014, more than 6,800 Peace Corps volunteers were serving in 64 countries around the world. One Wagner alumna is now among their ranks, and another is about to join them: Molly Delbridge ’14 in Belize, Central America; and Annabella Cockerell ’14 in Kosovo, in southeastern Europe.
Delbridge, an anthropology and Spanish double major, departed last summer to join the second cohort of the Belize Health Peace Corps program. After three months of language and health training, she began her service in a village in the Cayo District, near the Guatemala border.
“It is my goal to work collaboratively with community members, motivating long-term and sustainable change,” Delbridge says.
In a country where health system is spread thin, Delbridge is finding many opportunities to achieve her goal. As of early 2015, she was assisting with health and PE classes in the primary school, offering health informational sessions and doing home visits with the village’s community health worker, renovating the community clinic, and running a weight loss group.
Last July, the Peace Corps launched a streamlined application process, leading to a 22-year high in incoming applications. One of them came from Annabella Cockerell. After submitting her application and performing well in a two-hour interview, she was selected to become an English teacher in Kosovo. She departs for her assignment in June.
“That is really my passion, teaching,” says Cockerell. “It was fitting that my position in Kosovo will be an ESL teacher. I am very excited.”
An education and Spanish major, Cockerell studied abroad in Costa Rica and Spain and gained teaching experience in those countries and on Staten Island, especially in the Port Richmond community.
After six months of hands-on experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize, Delbridge says that Wagner’s academic and co-curricular programs prepared her well. “First, my major in Spanish allowed me to practice my language speaking ability before getting here — although one’s language always has to adjust to local slang.
“My major in anthropology propelled me to critically think about culture and allowed me to adapt to the customs of my village,” she continues. “My work as an RA [resident assistant] helped my project organization skills and person-to-person skills as well as my ability to work on my toes during emergencies.
“And finally, my work with the Port Richmond Partnership gave me the opportunity to work with community members on their improved health, preparing me for similar work here in my village.”