By Casey Sadler | Reporter
Baylor 2021 alumnus Seth Gaulke answered his call to work as a Peace Corps education volunteer for this fall.
The Peace Corps is an international service organization that, by government invitation, sends volunteers all over the world to aid in various community needs.
During his time at Baylor, Gaulke said he attended a Peace Corps recruitment meeting. Upon hearing about the opportunity, he said he could not pass it up because of his passions for people and linguistics.
Since he initially applied in December 2020, Gaulke said he had been patiently waiting for a decision regarding the program and finally received word of his acceptance in May 2022.
While at Baylor, Gaulke said he double majored in international studies and linguistics.
“It was my passion,” Gaulke said. “And even when it was difficult, I still had so much fun — like, so much fun that I was at Moody on the ground floor taking up that whole white board full of conjugations.”
Gaulke said many professors were a part of his journey at Baylor and eventually his Peace Corps mission. He said he especially wanted to recognize Dr. Clay Butler, senior lecturer; Dr. Melissa Dracos, assistant professor; Dr. Jeanette Marsh, associate professor and coordinator of the linguistics and language program; Dr. Alexandre Thiltges, senior lecturer in French; and Professor Holly Shi, senior lecturer in Chinese.
“I got to know the three professors in my department really well,” Gaulke said. “Each of them with their own classes and their own personal backstory kind of led me to thinking more seriously about English teaching.”
According to Gaulke, Butler was his very first linguistics professor. He said his lessons helped him move forward, as they highlighted the relationship among culture, society and language.
Immediately after graduation, Gaulke said he worked at Town East Christian Academy in San Antonio, where he gained his first experience as a full-time English teacher.
Similarly, Gaulke said he will be working as an English teacher in multiple small universities in Mexico.
“I’ll act as a helper for the teacher that is already there,” Gaulke said.
Before he begins teaching, however, Gaulke said he and the other Peace Corps volunteers will go through training together, both in and out of Mexico.
“We will all have a brief introduction to the Peace Corps and do some visa stuff in D.C. for two days, and then we’ll all travel to Mexico,” Gaulke said.
According to Gaulke, training will continue for three months before the volunteers begin their jobs.
Within the Peace Corps, there are six volunteer sectors to choose from, including agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development.
The Peace Corps’ mission statement includes three main ideas: “To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.”
Since former President John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps in 1961, volunteers have served in over 60 countries. In 2021, the organization celebrated its 60th anniversary.
Regional Peace Corps recruiter Don Holly said he holds meetings and class talks on campus periodically, during which he shares important information for any students who may be considering volunteering.
After moving recruitment online during COVID-19, Holly said the Peace Corps is back in person.
Holly said those who are interested can reach out to him at email@example.com for further information on how to get involved.
“Not only do I get to go abroad — get firsthand knowledge of the new place and the new group of people — I get to also share a part of me, a part of my culture,” Gaulke said.
After volunteering, Gaulke said he gets to complete the Peace Corps’ third goal, which is returning home and sharing with others what it’s like to experience another culture.
The Baylor alumnus will be teaching in Mexico for the next two years. Although his plans are not final, he said he wants to continue his English teaching career by applying to another Peace Corps program once his time in Mexico is complete.
By Casey Sadler | Reporter