Rutgers alumnus named new Peace Corps recruiter
After 27 months spent serving underprivileged regions, Daniel Turkel is helping to expand the Peace Corps, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping train people around the world for skilled positions.
Turkel, a Rutgers—New Brunswick Class of 2012 graduate, joined the Peace Corps on March 18, 2013, because he realized he wanted to help others and have an adventure at the same time. Now, Turkel works as a recruiter for the organization.
“I did not really know exactly what I wanted to do after graduating from Rutgers," he said. "I thought it would be a good idea to take some time away from everything and try to figure it all out.”
Part of Turkel's time was spent in Albania, a small European country known for its tourism industry.
While in the country, Turkel said he attended a language class almost every day to learn how to speak Albanian.
“I put a lot of effort into learning the language in class as well as at home with my host family,” Turkel said.
Following the completion of his language class, Turkel said he worked with a personal tutor once per week for about one year to continue improving his language skills.
During his service in Albania, Turkel initiated a project to help the maternity ward of his city’s main hospital. He invited the doctors and nurses at the maternity ward to a symposium he organized. Presenting to the symposium entirely in Albanian was a personal challenge, he said.
“(That) was undoubtedly one of the most rewarding experiences I have had during my time in the Peace Corps,” he said.
One of his assignments was in Berat, Albania. Known as the “town of a thousand windows,” the area is one of Albania's biggest tourist destinations, he said.
When Turkel completed his time with the Peace Corps, he returned to the United States and began working as a regional recruiter for the agency.
As a recruiter, Turkel said he works closely with several universities, colleges and community organizations in Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Staten Island. He also attends and organizes various events, such as panels, information sessions and information tables at career fairs.
Volunteers often serve for two years after receiving in-country training, according to the Peace Corps' website.
The agency was founded in 1961, when President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924, establishing the organization on a provisional basis, according to the organization's website.
“The agency has become a dynamic, forward-leaning champion for international service defined by its innovation and compassion,” according to the Fayetteville State University website.
The Peace Corps provides volunteers with housing and a fixed amount of money for food and extraneous items, according to a Peace Corps fact sheet.
The agency also provides volunteers with up to three months of intensive language, intercultural and technical training before their service begins and then offers continued training during their service, Turkel said.
In 2015, nearly 23,000 people applied to volunteer for the Peace Corps, which is a 40-year high, according to the agency's website.
Since 1961, 347 Rutgers—New Brunswick graduates have volunteered to be involved in the Peace Corps, said Emily Webb, Public Affairs specialist for the Peace Corps, in an email. In 2014, 22 undergraduate alumni from Rutgers—New Brunswick served as Peace Corps volunteers.
The Peace Corps offers a unique opportunity to grow as an individual while also helping others in an entirely new community and culture, Turkel said.
“People who choose to volunteer for the Peace Corps end up receiving countless benefits throughout their service as well as for the rest of their lives,” he said. "The Peace Corps was a perfect fit for me.”