It’s no secret that one of the more obvious benefits of AmeriCorps is the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award that AmeriCorps members receive upon completion of their term of service. The Education Award ($ 4,725) is granted to all first and second year AmeriCorps alumni, in the hope that the cost of higher education will be alleviated or undergraduate or graduate student loans can be more easily paid off.
Following the completion of my first term of service with AmeriCorps NCCC, I took the standard route. I used my Education Award money to help relieve the overwhelming debt I faced from attending a four year private undergraduate institution. My award helped defray the balance of my student loans but I knew that following my second year term of service with Volunteer Maryland, I would want to use my award funds for something more meaningful.
Needless to say my quest to get “creative” found me adamantly searching for volunteer abroad opportunities that would permit me to use my award to fund the trip. I’ve always dreamed of traveling to Africa and working with orphaned children or helping women to be empowered and sexually responsible. After many hours of searching, I think I have found my program of choice!
The International Education Programs of Jacksonville University offers a plethora of programs for study or volunteering in a variety of countries around the world. I am particularly interested in their internship program in Ghana, West Africa. Their Public Health Education, Sexual Reproductive Health and Community Outreach focus areas respectively, have all managed to catch my eye. I am eager to get started with the application process and to even apply for scholarships that would help minimize the cost of my trip. My Education Award will pay for the actual internship experience. However, it is looking as though booking my flight to, and from Ghana, may in fact be my responsibility.
I am very excited about the prospect of serving in Ghana at the end of the summer or early fall 2010. I will be sure to keep you all posted on my application status and “Life After AmeriCorps” plans. For those of you who are interested in checking out volunteer or study opportunities with The International Education Programs of Jacksonville University, I would encourage you to visit this site. There is also an Idealist.org Volunteer Abroad Fair taking place this Thursday, February 4, 2010 in Washington DC. For more information on the Idealist.org Volunteer Abroad Fair, I invite you to click here.