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Continuing to Serve the World: IPSL After Americorps

January 28, 2014

Today’s guest post comes to us from Kimberly Ligon (AmeriCorps NCCC ’09), and current Masters in International Development and Service student with the IPSL program.  IPSL is a national education partner of AmeriCorps Alums.

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I was a member of AmeriCorps NCCC Class XV Denver Campus. For those 10 months of my life I traveled with the same 10 members, moving every 2 months onto a new project. During my time in NCCC, I canvassed communities in Galveston, Texas after the disaster of Hurricane Ike. I worked on wildfire prevention in the small community of Crown King, Arizona. I also served on Habitat for Humanity projects in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama. After AmeriCorps, I was a veterinary assistant in an animal hospital for 3 years, but there was always something missing. I missed the interaction with people; volunteering side by side helping to build and protect communities, striving to make communities across America better in any small way possible.  And as I realized how much I needed to go back to community work, the IPSL program came into my life. The IPSL Masters in International Development and Service can be and has been for me the perfect continuation of AmeriCorps.

I am now in the beginning of the third semester of the IPSL Masters in Development and Service Program. In these past three semesters, I have studied and learned about a vast array of topics and issues facing our planet, including: the effects of globalization across the world; ethical development practices; how to improve communication between cultures; and more. But I have not only been learning, I have been working side by side in every community the program has taken us to.

I have collaborated with the organization Oregon Volunteers to examine Oregon’s preparation for volunteers in disasters on a county wide basis. In Italy, I served with a start-up organization Miserecordiaaiming to create a space for immigrants to be given food and assistance, and to be taught how to work in agricultural industries and in cooking professions. This organization also placed a high value on the importance of inexpensive, quality, healthy foods. In Italy I was also privileged to join the organization Miserecordia, an entirely volunteer based health and ambulance service, where I helped to transport elderly patients to and from hospital and rehab appointments. And now I am in Ecuador and though I have not begun my service placement, I will most likely be volunteering on the Galapagos Islands with the Charles Darwin Foundation working on their visiting scientists program.

What is special about the IPSL program is that it’s not just learning in the classroom, its learning in the field. It’s working side by side in the community seeing what practices work and what could be improved. It’s learning from my new “team,” my cohort of classmates, with all our varying interests in the development world.  In AmeriCorps NCCC, I began my community work and developed a desire to continue such work, especially in the interest of disaster preparation and relief.  With IPSL,  I have taken these interests and examined them further. I have learned better practices in development and have seen organizations across the world in action.  I hope to take my interests and my new knowledge into the workplace, where I hope and believe that I will have a career where I can work with and inside communities to improve development across the world.

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