Newly minted college graduate Danielle Parks has been accepted into the Peace Corps and is heading to Cameroon next month.
Parks, 22, of Paterson, sees it as an opportunity to travel the world, learn a new language, and immerse herself in a new culture.
“The chance to serve in Cameroon is particularly special to me because I learned from the AncestryDNA test that a majority of my ancestry is located in this country. The opportunity to live where my ancestors may have lived truly will be an eye-opening and transformative experience,” said Parks. “It reinforces the idea that we are global citizens with ties to all parts of the world irrespective of borders or walls.”
Parks (pictured) earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from The College of New Jersey in Ewing earlier in the year. At the college, she volunteered with the school’s garden, meals on wheels, and other organizations. Before that she graduated from the Mary Help of Christians Academy in North Haledon.
Parks is the daughter of Alvin Parks and Patricia Seltzer of Paterson.
In Cameroon, Parks will work with local people and partner organizations on sustainable community-based development projects to improve the lives of the West African nation’s people. In the process, she will develop leadership, technical, and cross-cultural skills that will give her a competitive edge in the global job market upon return to the U.S.
140 volunteers are currently serving in Cameroon, working on projects in agriculture, education, and health.
Parks will begin training as an agriculture volunteer in September. Volunteers live with host families and receive three months of training before being assigned to a community in their country of service.
Volunteers live and work for 27-month terms of service in more than 60 nations and receive a living stipend, extensive language, and technical training. Some of the financial benefits include eligibility for student loan forgiveness and graduate school fellowships after service, according to the Peace Corps.
165 New Jersey residents are currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers around the world. More than 5,400 residents have served since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961.
The Peace Corps is seeking applicants for available positions in the fields of education, health, agriculture, community economic development, youth in development, and the environment. Open positions have an October 1, 2019 deadline. Click here for more information.