By Kimberly Bailey and Jessica Lobaugh
As a Peace Corps volunteer, Emily Hurianek teaches the upper grades in an elementary school on a tiny island in Micronesia. She speaks the local language, weaves, wears lavalavas, and lives off fish and taro.
Hurianek, '09, is just one of many Whitworth grads who have chosen full-time volunteer service after graduating from college. These recent grads are dedicated to making a difference. Working with organizations such the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, they have a desire to meet others' needs.
"The Peace Corps allows for time and place to seep into me as I seep into my service," Hurianek says.
Being around Whitworth's service-based community fed her desire to go out and volunteer, and provided a place for that desire to grow. Hurianek is creating projects that help families in Ulithi, a small outer island in Yap, Micronesia, with a population of less than 100 people.
"I'm working on developing a sustainable waste-management system that fosters environmental stewardship, communal responsibility and creativity," she says.
Working for the Peace Corps allows recent graduates a finacially viable way to serve in different parts of the world, Hurianek says. A small stipend provides for adequate food, shelter and other basic necessities. Living in another culture allows for personal growth, and a chance to adapt to and connect with the people there.
"The Peace Corps, for me, is people. It's the community on my island. It's my students. It's my host family," Hurianek says.
Kelsey Orr, '10, believes that her Whitworth experience gave her the foundation she needed to follow a path of service. Orr originally planned on going to Peru with Jesuit Volunteer Corps, but she felt it was her calling, among other reasons, to stay and work in Denver. Boys Hope Girls Hope offers a structured and safe academic environment that brings together mentors, tutors and a great staff for children who are motivated to increase their chances of going on to college, but who need help to get there.
"I love helping these kids learn and get involved in things that they wouldn't have done before participating in Boys Hope Girls Hope. It's so rewarding," Orr says.
Graduating from Whitworth gave Orr a sense of idealistic hope that she has carried with her into this organization. Classes she took at Whitworth, particularly Biblical Themes of Shalom, helped prepare her for challenges she has faced, including differences in beliefs.
"Through Whitworth and the Central America Study Program, my passion for equality and social justice has grown as my vocation, so that whatever I do in life will be a continuation of God's redemptive work on earth," Orr says.
Allyn Krzymowski, '08, says her Central America Study experience helped her see needs in new ways. She spent a year with urban youth in the city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with La Fundacion SEPA. While there, she helped create student governments in schools, promote youth festivals, and lead peace and conflict education. The most enriching and enjoyable part of Krzymowski's work was the time she spent in a youth leadership camp, helping youth to build skills for self-esteem, goal setting, public speaking, sexuality, community service, team work, conflict mediation, and much more.
"I saw students taking great leadership, being inspired to lead in their schools and communities, and discover great talent," says Krzymowski, who is working to change the way she sees the world and is matching her actions to meet the needs of others.
"I was reinforced in my passion for transformative education programs focused on the development of people, and peace and conflict education," Krzymowski says.