For the eighth straight year, Michigan Tech has been ranked as the number one university in the nation for their Peace Corps Masters International program.>>Sixty-five students at Tech make up the largest Peace Corps program in the country. These volunteers spend over two years away from family and friends in a cultural immersion that isn't always as easy as it seems. Two returned volunteers, Brian Barbre and Mary Snyder, who served in Ethiopia and Cameroon respectively, said their experiences had a big impact on their lives.
"It gave me something to do and something to focus on that I felt had tangible results and could have a positive impact on at least one or two people," said Barbre. "You are there long enough that you are actually part of the community," added Snyder. "You're not just a villager." Even though Barbre and Snyder had jobs to do making alternative fuel briquettes and studying agricultural practices, much of their time was spent building relationships with the people in their communities. "We would just talk, and a lot of the times I would learn more from them than they would learn from me," Snyder said. "So, just talking to them, and every once in a while being like, 'Well, you know, you can try this agro-forestry practice. We can try this out.'" Their experiences gave them not only a new appreciation for the life they live at home but a new set of skills they can take into the workforce. And for those thinking about joining the Peace Corps, they caution it's the toughest job you'll ever love.>>"It's a strong commitment. I mean, a lot of people don't necessarily always make it through," Barbre explained. "It is difficult. There's a lot of family separation, but for anyone who is thinking about Peace Corps, I would say, go get it!"