More than 134 Weber State University alumni have served in the Peace Corps since it was founded in 1961. WSU graduate Danielle Collier is one of 790 to work in North Macedonia as a Peace Corps volunteer.
This departure is not Collier’s first international volunteer experience. While working towards her bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in civic advocacy, she traveled to Mozambique in East Africa through Weber’s Global Engaged Learning Program.
“I tell everyone they should do this,” Collier said. “It’s worth it.”
Even though Collier only spent three weeks in Mozambique, the accomplishments she and other volunteers made in the community were life-changing.
She had the opportunity to build classrooms and a library so local children could continue their education. She also had the opportunity to provide access to a women’s center with hygiene programming. These acts led Collier to be her best self.
Her only regret is that it was not long enough. The opportunity to do more and immerse herself in another culture is what drove her to apply for the Peace Corps where she will spend two years as a community development volunteer.
Before volunteers reach their host families with whom they will live during their term of service, they must first go through a series of stages. Collier left the two day staging conference in Philadelphia on Sept. 21; she is now in Tetovo in North Macedonia attending a two week orientation at South Eastern European University.
Following a three month training in the native languages, Macedonian and Albanian, 55 volunteers will be sworn into the Peace Corps and placed with their host families.
It’s a huge honor for locals to open their home to volunteers. Many of them continually take part in serving as a host family. According to past volunteers, time spent at home with their host families was most memorable because it was spent learning about the culture, traditions and day-to-day life of the families.
Volunteers not only live like the locals, but they are also paid like the locals with a housing and living stipend. They are completely immersed in the community and culture.
“I am ready to get out of my comfort zone and experience what it is like to see the world from a different perspective,” Collier said.
Collier left her position as the Marketing Director at the Ogden Downtown Alliance to pursue the Peace Corps, and while sad to see her leave, 30 of her friends and coworkers came to support her yard sale where she sold her belongings to begin this new chapter in her life.
It is the support from the community and her family that has given Collier the courage to leave behind her home in Ogden to bring people together and make change in the world abroad.