By Melody Burri
By Melody Burri
Alina Urbanic, 20, of Victor, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Morocco Jan. 13 to begin training as a youth asset builder volunteer. The 20-year-old Victor High School alumnus will become immersed in a Moroccan community for more than two years. Her objective: working with and educating youth to promote sustainable change.
“It seems like the perfect step for me,” said Urbanic. “I want to both contribute and help other people, and I think I’m going to get quite a lot out of it.”
Urbanic first considered the Peace Corps when she was attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C., which is “pretty consistently one of the top senders,” she said.
“It seemed like a natural extension of my life thus far,” she said, “combining my love of learning about other cultures and languages with my studies in international development and my passion for volunteering and helping others.”
Urbanic, the daughter of Tom and Carol Urbanic, graduated from Victor High School and George Washington University. She also worked as an assistant teacher at the Fitzsimmons Dance Factory and taught French to students in the United States and overseas.
“I worked as a French tutor here in the States, and while on my study-abroad program in Senegal, tutored conversational English to mostly adult learners,” Urbanic explained. “While in Senegal, I also had the opportunity to volunteer with a pottery school for mentally and physically handicapped students — an immensely rewarding experience.”
This will be Urbanic’s third long-term experience abroad. She traveled to Italy in high school as an exchange student, spent time in Senegal, and has vacationed with family in France, Germany, Greece and Italy. Once accepted by the Peace Corps, she was fairly flexible about what part of the globe she’d be calling home for the next two years.
“I never really had an explicit preference,” she said, “but wanted to go where Peace Corps thought made most sense in terms of what the host country needed, and what I could offer.”
During the first three months of her service, Urbanic will live with a host family in Morocco to learn the local language and integrate into the local culture. After that, Urbanic will be sworn into service and assigned to a community in Morocco where she will serve for two years.
Urbanic will work in cooperation with Moroccan nationals and partner organizations to create sustainable, community-based development projects that improve the lives of people in Morocco, and help her develop leadership, technical and cross-cultural skills that will give her a competitive edge when she returns home.
“I am tremendously excited to get to know Morocco, to travel throughout the country, to come to understand its languages and culture, but most importantly its people, particularly the people I’ll live and work with on a daily basis.”
There’s quite a bit of culture shock to deal with, Urbanic said. But because she already has had a couple of cross-cultural experiences, she feels better prepared for Morocco.
“You know you’re going to feel overwhelmed,” she said. “Sometimes when I’m kind of over my head, I just keep pushing through it. If you don’t make the effort to try out your language skills, you won’t be able to push through to the next level.”
On Jan. 13, Urbanic will join 330 New York residents currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 13,085 New York residents have served in the Peace Corps since it was established in 1961. There are currently 215 volunteers in Morocco working in the area of youth in development. While in Morocco, volunteers learn to speak the local languages, including Darisha, Tamazight and Tashelheet. More than 4,625 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Morocco since the program was established in 1963.
New York was recently recognized as a top producer of Peace Corps volunteers. It ranked No. 2 among states with the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers currently serving overseas. To see the complete 2013 rankings of Peace Corps’ top states and metro areas, visit Peace Corps.
About the Peace Corps
As the preeminent international service organization of the United States, the Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Peace Corps volunteers work at the grassroots level with local governments, schools, communities, small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development.
When they return home, volunteers bring their knowledge and experiences — and a global outlook — back to the United States that may enrich the lives of those around them.
President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961 to foster a better understanding among Americans and people of other countries. Since then, more than 215,000 Americans of all ages have served in 139 countries worldwide. Visit Peace Corps to learn more.
This article was originally published on Messenger Post Media