Demystifying the Peace Corps

Alumna Skypes with students on volunteer program

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Cynthia Nuara

When Cynthia Nuara ’07 returned to the United States after serving in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, she was homesick; she’d spent the past two years in a strange place, teaching women about reproductive healthcare, taking censuses and training citizens to write grants. While she was glad to see her friends and family upon returning to New York, it was her newfound home in Central America that she longed for.

“I forged a lot of personal relationships in Guatemala, and it was really challenging for me to leave when time was up,” Nuara says.

Discovering that one of the biggest challenges in the Peace Corps is leaving the new home you’ve made for yourself abroad might never have crossed the minds of students in Associate Professor of Public Administration David Campbell’s Foundations of Civic Engagement course, but Nuara provided them with some perspective via a virtual presentation.

With her image projected onto a screen in Binghamton while she sat in her new “village” of New York City, Nuara fielded questions from Campbell and students. Her candidness helped students get a deeper sense of what’s possible in the Peace Corps,” Campbell says.

“It helped to demystify the experience and make it seem more doable,” he says.

The sense of community that Nuara developed in Guatemala serves her well as director of administrative services at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in Manhattan. While she admits that it was “a little surreal” talking to students as a professional — when it wasn’t long ago that she was in their shoes — she’d gladly do it again.

“I think it’s good for students to have time with people who have been connected to the college and are now in their careers,” Nuara says. “I think it’s a way to give back.”