Alumni joins Peace Corps

Meredith Cannon

In high school, BSM 06′ alum Kari Foley did many volunteer projects through RKVC, organizations like Volunteers of America (VOA), Memorial Blood Centers, and countless others. She was class president for four years, captain of the softball team, and on the Action Team for VOA. Now, at age 22, Foley has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will be heading to either Central or South America in October of 2010.

Although it hadn’t been a longtime dream of hers to be in the Peace Corps, Foley was influenced by her former classmate. “I did not always want to be in the Peace Corps,” said Foley, “Bridget Roby, a fellow BSM classmate, decided she wanted to do the Peace Corps and encouraged me to apply as well.”

Foley has tentatively been assigned to work in the business development program, which could vary from working with small micro-businesses, planting trees and teaching more sustainable agricultural practices, or even building a community center to help local entrepreneurs. “Basically, it could mean anything. My hope is that I can serve the community in whatever their need is, not necessarily what I have been assigned to do,” said Foley.

Although Foley hoped to travel somewhere in East Africa, the Peace Corps does not allow their members to choose the country they will go to. Since she knows conversational Spanish, they thought it would be a better fit to go somewhere in Central or South America. “I will hopefully find out where I am going in the next month or so,” said Foley, “they are waiting for all of my medical exams to clear before I am extended a country invitation.”

After receiving the country invitation, Foley can refuse a specific place, but there would be no guarantee that she would be placed somewhere else. “More than likely, I will accept whatever place they assign me. If I had a preference, I would love to be assigned to Belize or Peru or somewhere in South America,” said Foley.

While most of her time will be occupied working, Foley will receive two vacation days a month. “Hopefully I can use that time to travel within the country that I am placed,” said Foley.

Her time with the Peace Corps is not strictly volunteer work, she will get paid and could receive a bonus. “I get paid the equivalent of the counterpart in my country, which usually averages out to be around $300 per month,” said Foley, “plus, I get a $6,000 award if I stay for the entire 27 months.”

Foley’s family and friends are supportive, but worried about her traveling abroad for so long. “My mom and siblings will miss me and my dad just thinks I won’t make it out alive,” said Foley, “although they are all very worried, they understand that it is something I really want to do.”

Foley herself is more enthusiastic about traveling than she is worried. “I think my family and friends are nervous enough for me so I don’t really need to be nervous for myself,” said Foley.

Although Foley doesn’t know anyone that is going with her, fellow classmate and BSM alum, Roby is also leaving in October with the Peace Corps. “[Roby] will more than likely be placed in West Africa somewhere,” said Foley.

With this great opportunity, Foley is sure to have a rewarding experience and achieve many of her goals, both tangible and intangible. “I hope to gain a better global perspective, grow personally, and create some sort of sustainable change within the community that I am placed,” said Foley, “As for tangible things, I hope to become fluent in Spanish, add a few stamps to my passport, and eat food that most other Americans would consider gross or weird.”