Elena Augustine may be in Kazakhstan teaching English and raising HIV/AIDS awareness, but she's also completing here International Administration degree as at student at the Josef Korbel School.
The Josef Korbel School offers the Peace Corps Master's International (MI) program which provides an 18 credit hour waiver, allowing students to complete the degree in four or five quarters and then being their 27 months of Peace Corps service shortly thereafter. The MI program is available to students interested in pursuing an MA degree in the following programs: International Administration, International Development, or Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration.
Augustine is in her second year in Kazakhstan as a Youth Development volunteer.
"Korbel has helped me enormously in being able to do effective work for my organization here in Kazakhstan," Augustine said. "Some of my work is directly with youth and some is in organizational development. The latter related directly to my International Administration master's program."
As Augustine is nearing the end of her Peace Corps service, she is working on her thesis project on the changing nonprofit fundraising climate in Kazakhstan. She described an increasing difficulty in getting international grants and practicable strategies for organizations to diversify their sources of funding.
But Augustine's favorite project is known as the Post Secret Kazakhstan, an idea she's had since beginning her service.
"It's based on the Post Secret project implemented by Frank Warren in the U.S.," Augustine said. "The idea is that youth around Kazakhstan artistically share a secret they've never told on a blank postcard and submit it to our organization. We then put the best up on the website where we also have information on HIV/AIDS centers all over the country that offer anonymous testing. The idea is to encourage testing among youth in a country where the topic of HIV/AIDS is still quite taboo, especially in the more conservative South."
Peter Birmingham is another MI student who arrived in Ukraine at the end of September for his Peace Corps assignment. Birmingham conducts 18 English language classes a week at a secondary school. Before beginning, he received lessons on Ukrainian and the national education system. He said the education he received at the Josef Korbel School provided a solid background for his work in the Corps.
"I'm very glad to have completed my master's coursework before joining, if only to approach this experience with a perspective that is slightly more worldly and self-confident than it otherwise would have been," he said.
Birmingham added that being able to think on his feet competently in a demanding environment have been important skills to have acquired for the Peace Corps, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Augustine said there is a committee planning activities for the celebration including an international food fair and block party, among others. Augustine herself plans to hold a "Global House Party" at her apartment on March 4 for other volunteers in her area.
The Denver community is also planning a number of 50th anniversary celebrations which can be viewed by reading DU Today's anniversary article.
-M. Schwinn, MA candidate in International Security
Josef Korbel School of International Studies.