Natural Selection – Education and the Peace Corps

Natalie's students she worked with
Natalie’s students she worked with

Education and the Peace Corps were the natural selections for the next part of Natalie’s journey.

Natalie Part II

As the AmeriCorps experience ended, Natalie enrolled in the Elementary Education program at SPC. She struggled through each semester, changing jobs each time her school schedule changed. Countless nights, Natalie questioned how she was going to afford beans and vegetables knowing her last $15.00 was earmarked for gas for school and her internship. Through it all, she reminded herself that the kids counted on her.

In the summer of 2017, she was presented with the opportunity to join the College of Education in Jamaica to teach in a school for a week with Study Abroad. Natalie didn’t think she could afford it.  However, she really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity, so part of each paycheck went to this first.

Educational skills Natalie taught her students
Educational skills Natalie taught her students

Natalie ran a computer lab at a rural elementary school for an entire week by herself in Ocho Rios, Jamaica in November of 2017. The class sizes in Jamaica are double American class sizes. There were 20 computers and chairs, yet 38 students. Children who had so little became an inspiration to work with.

Comparing Cultures

The experience in Jamaica completely changed her. Arriving back here, she couldn’t wait to share experiences with her students. Through stories, they were able to compare and contrast life and schooling in America vs. Jamaica. Watching students gain respect and tolerance for another culture gave Natalie the feeling they would spread their knowledge to their siblings, families, friends, and anyone they encountered. This was a powerful emotion.

Jamaica students enjoying the COE Study Abroad students
Jamaica students enjoying their time with the COE Study Abroad students

Natalie knew that her next step would be applying for the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is a sister program to the AmeriCorps. According to their website, the Peace Corps is a service opportunity for motivated people to immerse themselves in a community abroad.  They work side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation.

In February 2018, she applied for the Peace Corps. Ironically, the only education program open for applications at that time was in Jamaica, of all places. The position was for a literacy advisor, doing what Natalie had been doing for the past few years. This was destiny.

The Jamaica program was one of the most competitive programs to get accepted into. This did not discourage Natalie.  She was invited for an interview in May 2018.  Out of many of competitive applicants, Natalie will officially serve as a literacy advisor, departing in March 2019!  She was one of the chosen!

What’s Next? Making a Difference

Natalie’s journey as an educator is just beginning. Her final internship will further prepare her to serve in the Peace Corps!  New stories, new places, new minds to open to a world of  possibilities!

Learning about the world
Learning about the world
For more information about Elementary Education or other programs with the College of Ed, please contact Pat Roper.
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