Kevin Burke '09 and Alexandra Moskaluk '08 both returned to Wagner during the past academic year to speak about their experiences as recent Peace Corps volunteers.
Burke served in Stepnogorsk, Kazakhstan, a town several hours' drive north of the new capital of Astana, from August 2010 until late November 2011. “My primary assignment was working at a youth center,” he reports. “I also worked at a center for disabled young adults, worked in local schools developing volunteer projects for the schools and town, taught English at a local college, and coached basketball.” His time in Kazakhstan ended early when the Peace Corps decided to withdraw from its operations there.
Kevin's presentation at Wagner included historical tidbits (the apple and the domesticated horse originated in Kazakhstan), cultural tips (don't mention the movie Borat in association with Kazakhstan), and a description of bathing in a traditional sauna, or banya. On his Peace Corps service, he commented, “I can't imagine anything more difficult than this, but I can't imagine anything I'll love more.” For the future, he is planning to work on his certification in teaching English as a foreign language, in preparation for teaching abroad or rejoining the Peace Corps to volunteer in a different country.
Moskaluk served in the Republic of Albania from March 2009 until May 2011. She lived for one year in Fushё-Krujё, a small community of 5,000 north of the capital city, Tirana; and another year in Durres (population 220,000) on the Adriatic coast.
In Fushё-Krujё, she organized a Girls Critical Thinking Club with high school students and helped a women's artisan group learn marketing skills. In Durres, she helped a local group conduct campaigns against domestic violence, human rights awareness activities, youth development projects, and other social services. She was also a part of the Peace Corps' Anti-Trafficking in Persons Committee and the Outdoor Ambassadors Committee.
She loved her Peace Corps work and the opportunities she had to travel around the Balkans, Turkey, and Southeast Asia. In addition, she says, “My Peace Corps experience allowed me to clarify my interests and goals.” After returning home to Boston, she began a second bachelor's degree to become a registered nurse. She also serves on the board of Friends of Albania (friendsofalbania.net), a nonprofit that provides small grants to Albanian organizations working with Peace Corps volunteers.