WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange resident Phoebe Kurien, 22, says she's looking forward to being a part of "a global community that is interconnected" after being recently accepted into the Peace Corps. Kurien, a graduate of West Orange High School, departs for Malawi in June to begin training as a Community Health Specialist.
As a student of Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA, Kurien earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science in 2019. During her Peace Corps service, Kurien said she is determined to "make a lasting impact."
“Peace Corps is dedicated to extending service and friendship to countries around the world, and this goal really connected with me on a personal level," said Kurien. "I am so proud to be an American, and an immigrant to my country."
Prior to joining the Peace Corps, she worked as an emergency medical technician and was active in the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity.
During the first three months of her service, Kurien will live with a host family in Malawi to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the necessary skills to assist her community, Kurien will be sworn into service and assigned to a community in Malawi.
While in Malawi, she will live and work for two years with the local residents and partner organizations on sustainable, community-based development projects that improve the lives of people in the community.
According to the Peace Corps—which sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change—the idea is that the volunteers will develop leadership, technical and cross-cultural skills that will give them a competitive edge when they returns home.
"I want to inspire and really encourage a health conscious community," said Kurien. "I am striving to help inspire the community so that they are able to take the skills sets that I am able to provide and truly help develop themselves further. I want the community that I work with to feel empowered to keep taking steps and strive for healthier and stronger community."
According to the Peace Corps, there are more than 110 volunteers working on projects in education, the environment and health with communities in Malawi. Since the program was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, more than 3,065 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Malawi.
Kurien joins 165 New Jersey residents currently serving in the Peace Corps and more than 5,400 New Jersey residents who have served in the Peace Corps since its inception.
In addition to developing sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, the environment and youth development, Peace Corps volunteers also typically return from service as global citizens well-positioned for professional opportunities in today’s global job market.