Work as an urban-youth development Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador was a natural step for Peter Frank ’10, who worked with disabled teenagers in Mount Vernon as a Kenyon student.
Frank is one of 13 Kenyon alumni now serving in the Peace Corps and one of 222 alumni who have served over the years. The Peace Corps recently included Kenyon on its annual list of top volunteer-producing colleges. Kenyon placed tenth among small colleges on the list.
Frank was a sociology major at Kenyon, and he told the Peace Corps in an interview that he has always been interested in social change. While in Gambier, he was a founder of Transition Mission, a Kenyon student club that develops social opportunities for mentally and physically disadvantaged teenagers at Mount Vernon High School.
“I learned that if you want to make something happen or do something, you have to just go for it and give it a shot,” Frank said. “Students at Kenyon are very much go-getters in this way, and a lot of the things Kenyon offers are a result of student initiative. Peace Corps is similar.”
Frank has served in coastal Ecuador since 2012 and works in low-resource neighborhoods. He teaches a class to third- to seventh-graders that encompasses life skills, public health, and financial literacy, and he coordinates and directs after-school programs. Frank also works with Plan International in a program that includes life-skills instruction and HIV/AIDS education.
A second-generation Peace Corps volunteer, Frank said his volunteer work has been enlightening. “My urge when I first got here was to try and solve everyone’s problems in my first month,” he said. “That did not happen. I have learned a lot about patience and the importance of letting projects develop and communities being the main driving force behind initiatives.”
The Peace Corps was created in 1961. Volunteers receive living expenses and health and dental insurance during the 27-month duration of their service. More than 215,000 Americans have served in 139 countries since the agency was established by President John F. Kennedy.