RG Report: Peace Corps rates high at UO

The following report appeared in the Register Guard on Monday, February 11, 2013:

Hooked by tales of derring-­­do in remote places, University of Oregon students are volunteering for the Peace Corps at a higher than average rate.

This year, the UO is the eighth-highest volunteer-­producing campus out of the nation’s largest universities.

In the past two years, the UO leapfrogged the University of North Carolina, the University of Michigan and the University of Arizona to claim its current ranking.

Today, UO graduates are volunteering in Samoa, Mongolia, Fiji, Colombia, Belize, Albania and Armenia.

So how does this happen? How does the UO Ducks Peace Corps fledge?

By word of mouth, UO-based Peace Corps recruiter Hannah Klausman said.

“Most times when I ask: What interested you in Peace Corps? Almost always, ‘It’s somebody told me about their experience and it sounded amazing,’ ” she said. “That’s what always gets people jazzed.”

Volunteers beget volunteers, so schools tend to get a momentum going that rolls them into the top ranks. The University of Washington, for example, has been near the top of the list for years.

The University of California, Berkeley, which, at a cumulative total of 3,544, is the single largest source for the 51-year-old agency.

The UO has a total of 1,165.

Still, in a lot of ways, Eugene is marked by the Peace Corps. The first child conceived by a married couple in the Peace Corps, Stephen Hamilton, lives in Eugene, according to the Eugene-based West Cascade Peace Corps Association.

His parents went to Ghana in the first group of volunteers dispatched when President John F. Kennedy created the corps on March 1, 1961.

UO business instructor Chuck Kalnbach was the youngest to serve.

At age 12, in 1977, he volunteered with his parents at Lesotho, a country landlocked inside South Africa.

The UO has hosted a Peace Corps recruiter on campus — by agreement with the agency — since as far back as the 1970s, said Klausman, a 2006 volunteer in Mongolia who currently fills the recruiting post.

Read the rest of story in the Register Guard.