Westfield State encourages intercultural dialogue, understanding, through new Peace Corps Prep initiative
Westfield State University has partnered with the United States Peace Corps to offer Westfield State students the Peace Corps Prep program. The university is the first in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts approved to offer the program that combines coursework with community service to prepare students for international careers.
“Westfield State University aims to prepare our students to develop an intercultural perspective fueled by global awareness,” said Westfield State University Interim Dean of Faculty Dr. Susan Leggett. “The Peace Corps Prep program will encourage our students to become socially-responsible citizens determined to enact positive change throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.”
The Peace Corps Prep is an undergraduate certificate program that creates a framework for students to build sector-specific skills, foreign language proficiency, intercultural competence, and professional savvy and leadership. The program will be housed in Westfield State’s International Programs Office and the Political Science Department. Students participating in the program are required to complete six courses, three of which must be intercultural competency courses; at least 50 hours of volunteer experience; and one substantial leadership experience.
Westfield State’s Peace Corps Prep program will build upon the university’s high-impact practices, including study abroad, as demonstrated in the newly developed student-engagement initiative, The Westfield State Experience. According to Westfield State University President Dr. Ramon S. Torrecilha, service learning is core to the Experience and has long been an emphasis with Westfield State’s curricula.
The university allows students to study abroad for a semester or year in more than 36 countries. Students also have the opportunity to take a short-term study abroad class and travel for three weeks during the summer or winter breaks. The Peace Corps Prep program will allow students to demonstrate their commitment to integrating academics with local service or international service within a short-term study abroad course.
“The program enhances the university’s tradition of global engagement and helps Westfield State develop more service-focused citizens that contribute to the communities in which they live and work,” said Westfield State International Programs Director Cynthia Siegler. “Peace Corps Prep will provide an outlet program for our students to prepare for international service abroad.”
Students will receive a certificate from the Peace Corps upon completion of the program. Students can apply for enrollment in the program beginning in the fall 2017.
Founded in 1839 by Horace Mann, Westfield State University is an education leader committed to providing every generation of students with a learning experience built on its founding principle as the first public co-educational college in America to offer an education without barrier to race, gender or economic status. This spirit of innovative thinking and social responsibility is forged in a curriculum of liberal arts and professional studies that creates a vital community of engaged learners who become confident, capable individuals prepared for leadership and service to society.