SIT, Peace Corps share ‘same passions and ideals’

April 14th, 2020   |   Peace Corps, Scholarships

Colin Byers, left (with sunglasses), and his SIT Climate Change program cohort.

School for International Training (SIT) and the Peace Corps have a shared history tracing back to the early 1960s, when Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps, called on SIT's precursor, The Experiment in International Living, to train the earliest Peace Corps volunteers.

That partnership paved the way for establishment of School for International Training in 1964. Today, SIT offers graduate and doctorate programs through SIT Graduate Institute, with many of our alumni also serving in the Peace Corps.

When Peace Corps volunteers' time abroad was cut short by the novel coronavirus, SIT decided to create enhanced scholarships for those returning home early in gratitude for their commitment and service. In this series, we hear from alumni about the similarities between their Peace Corps and SIT experiences -- and what makes the ideal candidate for both.

I had a job I loved, but knew I wanted to learn more about my field and the opportunity seemed so rare to study in a program like that.

Colin Byers served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines. He earned his master's in Climate Change and Global Sustainability at SIT in 2019. The below piece is in his own words.

Experiential learning is something that drew me to both the Peace Corps and SIT Graduate Institute. While not the biggest fan of classrooms, I love to learn, travel, and make myself useful wherever I can. I joined the Peace Corps for precisely that reason.

In Peace Corps Philippines, we were able to engage directly with community members and listen to their first-hand experiences. When I chose SIT's Climate Change and Global Sustainability master's program, I had a job I loved, but knew I wanted to learn more about my field and the opportunity seemed so rare to study in a program like that.

Care was taken by SIT staff and educators in Iceland to make sure that we heard from innovators on the front lines of environmental work at each site our program visited. The hands-on fieldwork and practice at SIT offers a unique perspective on classroom lecture materials. In the Climate Change and Global Sustainability program, we were able to learn and visit with government and NGO leadership in Tanzania, as well as individuals who were local leaders in their communities.

Colin Byers in Iceland on the SIT Climate Change MA program.

I think that my SIT experience was enhanced by the Peace Corps values of flexibility and resiliency.

Similar to my Peace Corps experience, this allowed me access to a greater depth of expertise and resources at multiple levels. I think that my SIT experience was enhanced by the Peace Corps values of flexibility and resiliency. Adapting to learn in a new culture can be challenging, but the preparation from my Peace Corps service experience and the SIT program was a great match! 

The history that binds these two organizations is made up of the same passions and ideals today. Both organizations attract people who are passionate about caring for the earth and our global community.

If that sounds like you, your next adventure awaits!

The above is the second in a series from School for International Training focused on reflections from alumni of both SIT and the Peace Corps. To read the first piece, click here.

To learn more about SIT Graduate Institute's scholarships for returning Peace Corps volunteers or SIT master's and doctorate programs, please reach out to Mary Kay Sigda at MaryKay.Sigda@sit.edu or Maira Tungatarova maira.tungatarova@sit.edu.