WATCH: Two Peace Corps members talk their experience, application tips

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Two Peace Corps employees visited TCU’s campus Wednesday to encourage students to consider applying for the program.

Erin Gibbs, chief of operations for the Peace Corps’ Office of Volunteer Recruitment and Selection, and Matt Sheehey, director of press relations, spoke about their travels with the Peace Corps. Gibbs traveled to Macedonia and Sheehey traveled to Panama.

The Peace Corps is a service opportunity to travel abroad and help positively impact communities around the world.

“This is really an amazing opportunity to serve our country and also serve in developing communities around the world and have a leadership and development experience that you cannot have anywhere else,” Sheehey said.

When applying for the program, volunteers can serve for six different sectors: agriculture, environment, community economic development, health, education and youth in development.

“In 2014, we revamped our application process,” Gibbs said. “We have quarterly application deadlines throughout the year and also quarterly deadlines where you know within a few months of applying whether you’re going to get in or not.”

Before applying, Gibbs recommends to talk to a Peace Corps recruiter in the area to answer any questions about the process.

While traveling as a Peace Corps volunteer, Gibbs said leaving the fast-paced lifestyle in the U.S. was the most noticeable change when arriving in Macedonia but not everything was different.

“I think the biggest thing I learned right away is that people are the same no matter where you go,” Gibbs said. “Whether you’re in Arkansas, where I grew up, or in Macedonia, people care about family.

Gibbs and Sheehey recognize how the Peace Corps impacted their lives and broadened their horizons.

“I’d probably still be in Arkansas,” Gibbs said. “I traveled a bit, but you know, stayed in the one community and the state where I was born and raised. Now, you know, the world is your oyster as they say and I’ve lived in three different countries and traveled to more than 40 countries doing work that I love.”

Sheehey said he would still be living in his community in upstate New York without having the opportunities he experienced through the Peace Corps.

“Thanks to my contact with a Peace Corps volunteer who helped open my eyes to these new possibilities and also the great advantage of having this cultural experience, I was able to do more with my life then I would have anticipated,” Sheehey said. “The Peace Corps opens up a whole new set of doors for return volunteers professionally.”

People who served in the Peace Corps are given non-competitive eligibility, where a volunteer can go through the hiring process at a faster pace. The executive branch of the government can hire them within 12 months of serving in the Peace Corps.

For more information about the Peace Corps, visit peacecorps.gov.