Recent Grad Sets Sights On Chad
August 3, 2004 8:53 AM
While some college graduates are preparing for 40-hour workweeks and the day-to-day grind, Nathaniel Tishman, a recent SF State journalism graduate, is about to embark on a new journey as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
According to the Peace Corps Regional office in San Francisco, there are currently 26 SF State graduates volunteering in countries such as Fiji, Honduras and Romania; there are a total of 7,533 volunteers worldwide. Tishman, 24 has been assigned to the Republic of Chad, a country in Africa with a population of almost 10 million.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Chad has many problems, including a high number of AIDS related deaths, inadequate drinking water and occasional locust plagues.
The question remains then, why would someone like Tishman and almost 8,000 others want to travel and live overseas for two and a quarter years in some of the world’s least-developed nations?
“There are a bunch of reasons,” Tishman says, after an 8-hour temp shift as a file clerk in the Financial District. “Some of them are noble, but others are more selfish. I have a legitimate desire to help out, but it’ll also look good on my resume.”
According to John Ruiz, a regional recruiter based in San Francisco, many college graduates volunteer overseas to gain valuable work experience that is not the eight-hour a day norm.
“It’s highly rewarding. You get to travel, learn a new language, gain hands on knowledge of another culture and develop a sense of purpose,” said Ruiz.
In 1960, President Kennedy unveiled his idea of an organization based on goodwill and volunteerism as well as understanding of other cultures.
For Tishman, a former employee of SF State’s Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, the idea of joining the Peace Corps began earlier this year when he was contemplating post-graduation plans. Tishman had applied for a grant that would have sent him overseas to extend his higher learning, but was denied.
“I had applied for the [J. William] Fulbright, which I didn’t get. I read up on the Peace Corps and gave them a call to get a sense of it, and decide if I was interested,” Tishman recalls.
Tishman had an interview with a recruitment officer, he was offered a nomination to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Prior to leaving for Chad, Tishman will most likely fly to Philadelphia for “staging,” where he will finish last minute paperwork, and receive immunizations and safety training. Once he arrives in Chad, Tishman will most likely live with a host-family for three more months of hands-on training before officially becoming a Peace Corps volunteer. Although the term of service is 27 months, a volunteer may resign at anytime.
On top of living and traveling abroad, Peace Corps volunteers receive benefits such as a small monthly stipend, paid vacation days off, a $6,000 “readjustment allowance” after the completion of volunteer duty as well as a 15 percent deduction per year off of federal loans such as Perkins Loans, a five percent low-interest loan granted by the university and the government.
There are many risks involved in Peace Corps service, which Ruiz has already faced and Tishman is preparing to deal with. According to the 2002 Annual Report of Volunteer Safety supplied by the Peace Corps, there were 87 reported aggravated assaults worldwide, six less than previously reported in 2001.
Though Tishman is aware of the risks, he still plans to leave for Chad in late September. “I’m getting as ready as I can. I should go into it as open-minded as possible and just be prepared for anything. Whatever happens, happens,” Tishman said.
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