Peace Corps recognizes Whitworth’s students volunteering overseas

by Kristen Grattan | Staff Writer

Whitney Carter, class of 2016, takes a selfie with the children she teaches in Ukraine. Photo courtesy of Whitney Carter.

The Peace Corps announced that Whitworth University is ranked number four on the agency’s 2017 Top Volunteer Producing Colleges and Universities list. There are 12 Whitworth alumni currently volunteering worldwide.

Both current and graduated Whitworth students are a part of the Peace Corps.

Whitworth graduate of 2016, Whitney Carter is currently volunteering in West Ukraine in a small village called Mamalyga.

“It’s one of those things that sounds so cheesy, but being uprooted and moving to the other side of the world is such a jarring experience,” Carter said.

Carter leads English clubs and summer camps. Going into her Peace Corps experience, Carter knew nothing about the Ukrainian language.

“We spend four to five hours a day, five days a week learning Ukraine for the first three months,” Carter said. “I’m nowhere near fluent but I understand it, so it’s really fun to see people so surprised when I understand it because they don’t think I will.”

Carter is currently working on a recycling project in Mamalyga and hopes that people will continue to be invested in the project while she is there and after she leaves.

“It’s so cool to see Whitworth ranked as number four for volunteering in the peace corp because we’re such a small university,” Carter said.

Whitworth grad students are volunteering with the Peace Crops all across the globe.“It’s crazy to think that these other people in the Peace Corp are in the same curriculum as me, but at the same time having such different experiences because of where they are.”

Carter ends her Peace Corps service in December 2018 with a total of 27 months served in Ukraine.

Kari Smith, a Whitworth graduate from the class of 2015 is also volunteering with the Peace Corps in Dombe, Mozambique.

“My primary project is to teach 8th and 9th graders English, and my secondary project is to teach 10th graders English,” Smith said.

Smith is also a part of the Girls Empowerment Group and a theater group. Both of these groups have been there since Smith arrived, but she is helping continue them.

“Americans often want to make a big difference in the world or have an impact, but for me the Peace Corps is about forming personal relationships and cultural exchange” Smith said. “I really look forward to further developing relationships with my girls at my school and the close friends I have made.”

Smith says the pace of life is slower in Dombe. She says the people in Dombe are so different that you just have to allow them to change your life.

“In Mozambique things often don’t go my way or go wrong,” Smith said. “So I have learned to change my perspective and not have too many of my own expectations or personal goals.”

Smith says her experiences have pushed, challenged, forced her to grow and face things on her own. She says she is slowly removing the haze of poverty in third world countries as the image that she was presented with in the U.S.

“You know the commercials with the starving kids with flies flying around their faces?” Smith said. “Yes, that’s true, but there are flies everywhere flying around everyone’s faces.”

“It’s just personifying this other world that I thought I knew,” Smith said. “I’m removing the pity and putting things into reality.”

Senior political science major Abby Nyberg is joining the Peace Corps in South Africa.

“I want to volunteer because I want to get international experience and teach kids English,” Nyberg said.

Nyberg has studied abroad in Costa Rica, the United Arab Emirates and Ireland.

She hopes to bring prior international experience to South Africa, considering she has studied abroad.

“I want to bring the perspective of the U.S. and our culture to them,” Nyberg said. “And I also want to bring happiness to kids because I enjoy being with them.”

Nyberg is leaving for her mission on July 9 to start her three-month training period of learning the language and adapting to the culture. She then proceeds to start her two-year journey with the Peace Corps.

Nyberg will be one of this year’s graduating seniors joining the 12 other Whitworth alumni who are currently volunteering for the Peace Corps worldwide.

*NOTE the views expressed by sources do not represent the Peace Corps. 

Contact Kristen Grattan at