Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Peace Corps volunteer addresses local Rotary


August 9, 2018

Courtesy Photo

Sierra Robbins enjoys the view in Morocco.

"You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of shore, so let your sails carry you to the ends of the waters. Let your anchor hold your dreams straight and true." ~unknown

For some, a chance to see the world and help others in the process, is a dream. The Peace Corps is a possible opportunity for those with the will to do so.

The Peace Corps, according to the Peace Corps website, is a service opportunity for motivated change-makers to immerse themselves in a community abroad, working side-by-side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation.

One of the most memorable achievements of President John F. Kennedy was creating the Peace Corps as a Senator at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor Michigan on October 14, 1960.

Along with the Peace Corps, Rotary Clubs throughout the world have been working together to address challenges around the world for more than 110 years, one major worldly challenge being Polio, according to the civic organization's official website.

Your local Rotary Club has continued to service projects around the community for more than 50 years.

Since 1961 over 220,000 Americans have became a part in piece corps history.

Recently the local Rotary Club invited Sierra Robbins, during a three-week vacation, to speak at their regular Rotary meeting on Tuesday, July 31, about her time in Morocco with the Peace Corps.

According to Kimball Rotary President Greg Robinson, said the presentation from Robbins was extremely interesting.

"Sierra seems very determined to help children, and that is so wonderful," said Robinson.

"The two year (27 month) time span to dedicate to a place that is out of your comfort zone is very admirable."

Robbins, a Laramie, Wyoming native, attended Laramie High School, getting her first real taste of world travel the summer between her sophomore and junior years of high school when she traveled to Sydney, Australia for the Down Under Sports competition.

After graduating LHS, in 2011, Robbins was accepted to the University of Wyoming for that fall to major in the French language.

Robbins' second opportunity to travel was in 2013 for a four-week study abroad to practice the French in 2013.

Once back in the Gem City, (Laramie) Robbins was in the home stretch of her college education, or that is what one might assume. She graduated in 2015 from the University of Wyoming with a bachelors in French. But her education didn't end there.

Once again Robbins was given an opportunity to head out on a study abroad trip to Israel and Jordan in the summer of 2016 for three weeks, during that time she became interested in international relations and was encouraged to look into the masters program for international studies at UW – a masters program through the Peace Corps and the University, known as Masters in International Peace Corps Program (MIPC).

"This Peace Corps program has inversions fields like agriculture, biology, environment, health, and international studies," Robbins said. "A student can work on their Masters and become a volunteer in the Peace Crops at the same time."

According to Robbins, the process begins with the student applying to the University for the MIPC program. Once accepted into the program, the student will complete their first year at the university planning their future research. The student then applies for the Peace Crops program, and, if accepted into the Peace Corps, the student's destinations are set and their journey begins.

Robbins was accepted into the MIPC program and began her journey in the fall of 2016. She was accepted into the Peace Corps Morocco officially in March of 2017. She embarked for Morocco in September that same year for a total of 27 months.

Morocco has been a part of the Peace Corps since 1963, and currently hosts its 100th group of volunteers in the country.

According to Robbins the sections of the Peace Corps around the world include Agriculture, Environment, Education, Youth and Development. However, Peace Corps Morocco only works in Youth and Development with the Ministry of Youth and Family.

Robbins said she was thrilled to be sent to Morocco, during training she was living with a host family in the small city of Azrou, population about 54,000.

"During the first three months in the Peace Corps you are stationed in a city in your area for training," she said. Part of that training was intensive language and cultural training classes each day.

Once she finished with her training, Robbins moved to her permanent location in a small oasis town in the desert called Figuig. With a population of about 11,000 people, Figuig is right on the Algerian border, where she lived with a host family for just one month before she had the opportunity to move out on her own.

Robbins currently lives in an apartment with her new best friend, Minoush, a cuddly kitten that was a house-warming gift from her most recent host family.

Dakota Kuhns

Sierra Robbins readies herself for a presentation at the local Rotary Club meeting.

Robbins is currently working in a youth center teaching English classes for junior high girls and adults, but within the next year she and her counterpart hope to begin teaching Zumba, Yoga and Meditation classes, more sports activities, a gardening and environmental club and project, life skills and activities, and possibly some other gender related camps in the summer of 2018.

"How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world? On your willingness to do that, not merely to serve one year or two years in the service, but on your willingness to contribute part of your life to this county, I think will depend on the answer whether a free society can compete. I think it can! And I think Americans are willing to contribute. But the effort must be far greater than we have ever made in the past." ~ John F. Kennedy.


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