UKIC / Peace Corps Prep Program / Peace Corps Prep Student Guide

Peace Corps Prep Student Guide

The Peace Corps Prep program will prepare you for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service. To accomplish this, you’ll build four core competencies through interrelated coursework, hands-on experience, and professional development support. These four competencies are the following:

  1. Training and experience in a work sector
  2. Foreign language skills
  3. Intercultural competence
  4. Professional and leadership development

Training & experience in a specific work sector

3 Courses + 50 hours related experience

Leveraging concrete knowledge and skills is central to on-the-ground international development work. Through this PC Prep program, you will begin to build a professional specialty, which should serve your career well whether or not you become a Peace Corps Volunteer.

For PC Prep, you need to complete at least 3 courses that align with a specific work sector (they can but do not need to come from your academic major or minor). You also must accumulate a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer or work experience in that same sector, preferably in a teaching or outreach capacity.  You will need to track your hours through https://uky.volunteermatch.org/ or another platform agreed-to by the UK Peace Corps Prep coordinator.

There are six sectors (www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/what-volunteers-do/) in which Peace Corps Volunteers serve—detailed below. Choose one sector to focus on then complete at least 3 courses + 50 hours of related experience in that sector. 

Education

Teach lessons that last a lifetime. Education is the Peace Corp’s largest program area. Volunteers play an important role in creating links among schools, parents, and communities by working in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools as math, science, conversational English, and resource teachers or as early grade reading and literacy teacher trainers. Volunteers also develop libraries and technology resource centers.

If you choose Education, take 3 courses from one of the following areas:

  • Elementary, Secondary or Special Education
  • English or Linguistics
  • TEFL/TESL/TWL
  • Math
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Any Physical or Biological Science

Recommended Courses:

  • IEC 256 (Guidance for Working with Young Children)
  • MA 201 (Mathematics for Elementary Teachers)
  • SEM 327 (Teaching Science in Elementary School)
  • KHP 371 (Student Teaching in Health Education)
  • PHY 160 (Physics and Astronomy for Teachers
  • EPE 301 (Education in American Culture)
  • EDU 300 (Experiential Learning)
  • LIN 513 (Teaching English as a Second Language)
  • TSL 597 (ESL Teaching Practicum)

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Teaching in one of these or a similar form: In a classroom, with a community outreach organization, or in a formal tutoring capacity.
    • The subject of the teaching may be English as a Foreign/Second Language, special education, drama, or a STEM subject.
  • Working with UK Service Corps (within UK’s Center for Community Outreach) to promote student learning and community development by working with local organizations and sites that impact underprivileged students.
    • E7 Kids Café is devoted to tutoring kids 4-17, Operation Motivation connects with high school students to help them graduate and pursue further education, and the MLK Academy for Excellence which helps students succeed academically and behaviorally.
  • Participating in one of UK’s Alternative Service Breaks (within UK’s Center for Community Outreach):
    • Global Youth Education in Ghana, Nicaragua, or Dominican Republic – a 1-2 week immersion through providing service to a community with poor quality and insufficient access to education.

Health

Serve on the front lines of global health. Health Volunteers work within their communities to promote important topics such as nutrition, maternal and child health, basic hygiene, and water sanitation. Volunteers also work in HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs to train youth as peer educators, develop appropriate education strategies, provide support to children orphaned by the pandemic, and create programs that provide emotional and financial support to families and communities affected by the disease.

If you choose Health, take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Nursing
  • Nutrition or Dietetics
  • Health Education
  • Pre-Med
  • Biology
  • Technical Education

Recommended courses:

  • HHS 362 (Interdisciplinary Health  Advocacy)
  • DHN 320 (Experiential Learning in Hunger Studies)
  • HHS 356 (Seminar in Interprofessional Healthcare: Global Context)
  • CPH 470 (Public Health Capstone)
  • DHN 315 (Nutrition Issues in Physical Activity)
  • CLM 452 (Community and Institutional Planning for Health Services Delivery

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Volunteer or work experience in such areas as HIV/AIDS outreach, hospice, family planning counseling, emergency medical technician (EMT) or CPR teaching/certification, maternal health, and hands-on caregiving in a hospital, clinic, or lab technician setting.
  • Counseling or teaching in health subjects.
  • Working as a resident advisor in a dormitory, as a peer nutritionist, or as a sexually transmitted infections counselor.
  • Volunteer with UK HealthCare to experience all of the opportunities in the UK HealthCare Enterprise and to use develop skills and abilities through patient experience.

Environment

Help forge a global movement to protect our planet. Volunteers lead grassroots efforts in their communities to protect the environment and strengthen understanding of environmental issues. They teach environmental awareness in elementary and secondary schools and to youth groups and community organizations, empowering communities to make their own decisions about how to protect and conserve the local environment. Volunteers also address environmental degradation by promoting sustainable use of natural resources.

If you choose Environment, take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Environmental Science or related field
  • Natural Resources Conservation
  • Wildlife Biology
  • Natural Resources or Wildlife Management
  • Forestry
  • Biology, Botany, or Ecology
  • Geology

Recommended courses:

  • NRE 399 (Experiential Education in Natural Resources and Environmental Science)
  • BIO 210 (The Life Processes of Plants)
  • BIO 325 (Ecology)
  • FOR 240 (Forestry and Natural Resource Ethics)
  • FOR 370 (Wildlife Biology and Management)
  • FOR 400 (Human Dimensions of Forestry and Natural Resources)
  • SOC 360 Environmental Sociology
  • NRE 201 (Natural Resources and Environmental Science)
  • GEO 351 (Global Environmental Change)
  • FOR 435 (Conservation Biology)

 And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Educating the public on environmental or conservation issues, or working on environmental campaigns.
  • Conducting biological surveys of plants or animals.
  • Gardening, farming, nursery management, organic or low-input vegetable production, or landscaping
  • Providing technical assistance and training in natural resource management.
    • Participating in one of UK’s Alternative Service Breaks (within UK’s Center for Community Outreach):
      • Weekend Environmental Stewardship in the Appalachian Region.
      • Wildlife Habitat Conservation in Silver Springs, FL.
      • Sustainable Agriculture in the Galápagos Islands—to promote cross-cultural understanding and advance international conservation efforts

Agriculture

Lead grassroots efforts to fight hunger in a changing world. Agricultural Volunteers work with small-scale farmers and families to increase food security and production and adapt to climate change while promoting environmental conservation practices. They introduce farmers to techniques that prevent soil erosion, reduce the use of harmful pesticides, and replenish the soil. They work alongside farmers on integrated projects that often combine vegetable gardening, livestock management, agroforestry, and nutrition education.

If you choose Agriculture, take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Agronomy
  • Horticulture
  • Botany
  • Entomology
  • Agricultural Science
  • Agribusiness
  • Agricultural Economics
  • Business or economics
  • Biology

Recommended courses:

  • AEC 309 (International Agriculture, World Food Needs and US Trade in Agriculture Products)
  • ECO 410 (Current Issues in Economics)
  • AEC 302 (Agricultural Management Principles)
  • ENT 300 (General Entomology)
  • ENT 340 (Livestock Entomology)
  • PLS 104 (Plants, Soils, and People: A Science Perspective)
  • SAG 101 (Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture)
  • SAG 201 (Cultural Perspectives on Sustainability)
  • SAG 397 (Apprenticeship in Sustainable Agriculture)

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Working with a large-scale or family-run business involving vegetable gardening, farming, nursery work, tree planting or care, urban forestry, landscaping, livestock care and management, or fish cultivation and production.
  • Teaching or tutoring the public in environmental or agricultural issues/activities.
  • Working on the business management or marketing side of a commercial farm.
  • Experiencing an education abroad trip the through the college of Agriculture, Food and Environment
    • Agribusiness in Argentina, Community Development in Nova Scotia, Community Engagement in Peru, and Field Studies in Costa Rica.
  • Participating in one of UK’s Alternative Service Breaks (within UK’s Center for Community Outreach):
    • Sustainable Agriculture in the Galápagos Islands—to promote cross-cultural understanding and advance international efforts.

Youth in Development

Empower the next generation of changemakers. Volunteers work with youth in communities on projects that promote engagement and active citizenship, including gender awareness, employability, health and HIV/AIDS education, environmental awareness, sporting programs, and info technology.

If you choose Youth in Development, take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Community Development
  • Counseling
  • Social Work
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Human Development
  • Family Studies

Recommended courses:

  • CLD 102 (The Dynamics of Rural Social Life)
  • CLD 340 (Community Interaction)
  • CLD 370 (Learning in Society)
  • SW 124 (Introduction to Social Services)
  • SW 354 (The Family in Cross-Cultural Perspective)
  • EDP 202 (Human Development and Learning)
  • EDP 305 (Introduction to Counseling Skills)
  • FAM 253 (Human Sexuality: Development, Behavior and Attitudes)
  • FAM 357 (Adolescent Development)
  • PSY 100 (Introduction to Psychology)
  • PSY 223 (Developmental Psychology)
  • PSY 399 (Field Based/Community Based Education)

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Teaching or counseling in at-risk youth programs
  • Activities that involve planning, organizing, assessing community needs, counseling, and leadership, in areas such as education, youth development, health and HIV/AIDS, the environment, and/or business
  • Peer Instructor for UK 101/201 to serve as a role model and mentor as students transition to college
  • Working with UK Service Corps (within UK’s Center for Community Outreach) to promote student learning and community development by working with local organizations and sites that impact underprivileged students.
    • E7 Kids Café is devoted to tutoring kids 4-17, Operation Motivation connects with high school students to help them graduate and pursue further education, and the MLK Academy for Excellence which helps students succeed academically and behaviorally.
  • Participating in one of UK’s Alternative Service Breaks (within UK’s Center for Community Outreach):
    • Global Youth Empowerment in Nicaragua or Dominican Republic—work with an non-profit organization known as Outrach360 to provide educational experiences and combat the negative effects of poverty .

Community Economic Development

Harness 21st-century tools to help communities lift themselves. Volunteers work with development banks, nongovernmental organizations, and municipalities to strengthen infrastructure and encourage economic opportunities in communities. They frequently teach in classroom settings and work with entrepreneurs and business owners to develop and market their products. Some Volunteers also teach basic computer skills and help communities take advantage of technologies such as e-commerce, distance learning, and more.

If you choose Community Economic Dev., take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Business or Public Administration
  • Accounting, Banking or Finance
  • Computer Science
  • Graphic Design
  • Mass Communications
  • International Business

Recommended courses:

  • ECO 201 (Principles of Economics I)
  • ACC 201 (Financial Accounting I)
  • MGT 301 (Business Management)
  • B&E 105 (Technology for Business Solutions
  • FIN 300 (Corporation Finance)
  • CS 115 (Introduction to Program Design, Abstraction, and Problem Solving Techniques)
  • CS 216 (Introduction to Software Engineering)
  • A-S 340 (Introduction to Graphic Design, Meaning and Image)
  • A-S 345 (Web Design)
  • COM 325 (Introduction to Organizational Communication)
  • COM 315 (Understanding the workplace in a Diverse US Society)
  • COM 249 (Mass Media and Mass Culture)
  • ECO 370 (The Global Economy)
  • B&E 240 (Inter-Cultural Business Communication)
  • B&E 327 (Larger World Issues in Business)
  • FIN 423 (International Finance)
  • MGT 410 (Analysis of Organizational Behavior)
  • MGT 309 (Introduction to International Business)
  • MGT 491 (Small Business Management)

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Working with businesses, organizations, or cooperatives in accounting, finance, microfinance, management, project management, budgeting, or marketing
  • Starting and running your own business or other entrepreneurial activity
  • Training others in computer literacy, maintenance, and repair
  • Website design or online marketing
  • Founding or leading a community- or school-based organization
  • Participating in a cultural education abroad program focusing on business:
    • Internship in Thailand, Merchandising in France, etc.

Foreign Language Skills

Requirements vary by placement region

Most students must hone their capacity to interact professionally using a non-English language. Minimum course requirements vary by desired placement region.

  • Latin America: Students indicating an intention to serve in Spanish-speaking countries must build strong intermediate proficiency, having completed two 200-level courses or learned Spanish through another medium.
  • West Africa: Students indicating an intention to serve in French-speaking African countries must build proficiency in French or another Romance language, having completed one 200-level course or learned the language through another medium.
  • Everywhere else: Students indicating an intention to serve anywhere else do not have explicit language requirements to complete the Program, but they should still be encouraged to study a foreign language.

Note: If you are a strong native speaker and hope to serve in a country that speaks your same language, you can skip this requirement!

Intercultural Competence

3 approved courses or 1-2 courses + substantive intercultural experience

Engaging thoughtfully and fluidly across cultures begins with one’s own self-awareness. With this learning objective, you will deepen your cultural agility through a mix of three introspective courses in which you learn about others while reflecting upon your own self in relation to others. The goal is for you to build your capacity to shift perspective and behavior around relevant cultural differences. Some example courses:

You’ll take at least 1 of these core courses:

  • ANT 160 (Culture Diversity in the Modern World)
  • GWS 200 (Sex and Power)
  • GWS 309 (Health, History, and Human Diversity)
  • GEO 240 (Geography and Gender)
  • ANT 220 (Intro to Cultural Anthropology)
  • GWS 302 (Gender Across the World)

And choose 2 additional electives from the above list or these below:

  • GEO 255 (Geography of the Global Economy)
  • PCE 201 (Intro to Peace Studies)
  • SOC 180 (Global Societies)
  • AAS 200 (Intro to African-American Studies)
  • AAS 235 (Inequalities in Society)
  • ANT 339 (Human Rights)

Is there another course in the catalog that you feel meets this requirement? Please discuss it with your PC Prep Coordinator.

Optional: Intercultural Experience in place of elective(s):

  • Experiencing an intercultural experience by studying/volunteering abroad1 through any of these programs:
    • Agribusiness in Argentina, Community Development in Nova Scotia, Community Engagement in Peru, Family and Culture in Asia, Field Studies in Costa Rica, Food and Sustainability in Italy, and Internship in Thailand
    • Participating Participating in one of UK’s Alternative Service Breaks (within UK’s Center for Community Outreach)2:
    • Weekend Environmental Stewardship in the Appalachian Region
    • Global Youth Empowerment in Nicaragua or Dominican Republic
    • Sustainable Agriculture in the Galápagos Islands
    • Global Youth Education in Ghana

1Studying/volunteering abroad in countries that hosted Peace Corps Volunteers (check list here https://www.peacecorps.gov/countries/) from one week to a summer may substitute for one course while a semester may substitute both electives

2Each distinct intercultural experience lasting at least forty hours may substitute for one elective

Professional & Leadership Development

Resume and interview support + Leadership experience

Peace Corps service and similar international development work opportunities are highly professional and selective. PC Prep requires three specific activities that will strengthen your candidacy for the Peace Corps (or any other professional endeavor):

  1. Have your resume critiqued by someone in James W. Stuckert Career Center.
  2. Attend a workshop, class, or or 1-on-1 session on interview skills at James W. Stuckert Career Center.
  3. Develop at least one significant leadership experience and be prepared to discuss it in a 500 word reflection. For example, organizing a campus event, leading a work or volunteer project, or serving on the executive board of a student organization.

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