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Study and Serve Abroad with IPSL Graduate Programs!

July 28, 2015

IPSL LogoToday’s guest post is sponsored by the IPSL Graduate Program in International Development and Service. The program educates leaders for professional careers with NGOs, educational, and community development organizations with an international and/or diversity focus. Students participate in service-learning throughout and spend time abroad in a variety of countries applying theory to real world civic engagement experiences. To learn more about IPSL, visit their website.

From the first day they pledged to “get things done” to the day they walked into an IPSL classroom, AmeriCorps alums Michael Blair and Derek Miller made service the center of their lives. Below, Michael and Derek share more.

Handing in My FEMA Corps Boots for a Passport by Michael Blair

It has been almost 400 days since I last uttered the AmeriCorps pledge to “get things done for America,” and graduated from one of the most difficult and rewarding chapters of my life. But, as we know, service to others doesn’t end even after you have handed in your FEMA badges or army boots. My next service opportunity with IPSL would result in a shift from thinking domestically to thinking internationally.

Derek (left) and Michael (right)

Derek (left) and Michael (right)

Before coming to IPSL, I served as an AmeriCorps FEMA Corps Team Leader with my friend and colleague Derek and provided disaster relief aid to communities across the U.S. Through service, I saw the larger effects of large-scale, disastrous events on individual, communities, and states. It got me thinking about the bigger picture. If residents of our country can suffer such unfathomable pain, what must it be like for communities living in less resource-rich nations? This thinking led me to the IPSL Graduate Program in International Development and Service.

Through IPSL, I have taken the civic-engagement mindset learned in AmeriCorps and expanded it. I’ve met with local communities across Italy and heard their trials of high unemployment and poverty. I’ve served at Italian farms and high schools and worked with large climate change and poverty alleviation NGOs such as Mercy Corps. I’ve been able to travel extensively, living and engaging in new cultures, and continuing to push outside my comfort zone. In essence, AmeriCorps taught me to be curious about the world, and IPSL has allowed me to take this curiosity even further. I’m better prepared now for whatever comes next in my future or career.

Dreaming of World-Travel in the North Carolina Country by Derek Miller

Born and raised in the country traditions of Winston-Salem, NC, my dream since the third grade has been to travel the world. This dream became my reality when I studied abroad in college as an undergraduate at North Carolina A&T State University. Following graduation, I joined the AmeriCorps NCCC/FEMA Corps program.


Derek and Michael with fellow ISPL students

Throughout my year of service as a team leader with Michael, there were a number of skills in management, professionalism, and leadership that AmeriCorps helped me to develop. However, my introduction to the IPSL Graduate Program in International Development and Service at the Life After Americorps Day on the Vicksburg campus, has been one of the most important opportunities that have come my way so far. I owe thanks to the IPSL program for helping me to continue serving domestically and abroad. IPSL has also connected me to local communities and increased my experiences within the field of my desired profession: youth development.

In both programs, I have learned the art of adaptability, hard work, and patience. Service work abroad and here at home is similar; however, service work abroad involves allocating more energy to speaking the native language, embodying a new perspective, and learning about another culture. The skills learned through my service in AmeriCorps and in my graduate program with IPSL will continue to be paramount as I move forward in my career.

Interested in learning more? Visit the IPSL website!

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