Comoros Bound: Zoe Siepert

Comoros Bound: Zoe Siepert

After graduation in May 2017, Zoe Siepert, a global affairs major with a concentration in Middle East and North Africa and a minor in international security, will be moving to a life far from Fairfax, Virginia. She is heading to the Comoros islands, an archipeligo off the east coast of Africa, to work as a secondary English teacher with the Peace Corps. She discussed her interest in the Corps, her application process, and how Mason helped her attain her invitation to join the Corps with Ann Ludwick, assistant dean, Schar School of Policy and Government and Mason Peace Corps Prep program coordinator.

How did you get interested in the Peace Corps?

A lot of my family members are educators, so teaching was always something I was interested in doing post-graduation in some capacity. I also have a passion for travel and cross cultural exchange so the Peace Corps just seemed like a natural next step after graduation. I also studied abroad in Morocco last year to study Intermediate Arabic and discovered that all of my Arabic professors were taking English classes after school. This made me think about the importance of learning English in foreign countries and heavily influenced my interest in applying to the Peace Corps.

How has Mason’s Peace Corps Program helped you?

The Peace Corps Prep Program helped me with gearing me towards what kinds of activities and courses I should take in order to have the strongest application possible. By giving me a step-by-step list of what courses to take and what activities are encouraged, I was able to see how I could make sure my application was full of relevant experiences. I think the biggest thing the Peace Corps cares about is your volunteer experiences, and this is important for the Peace Corps Prep Program as well.

What was the PC application process like?

The application process was not nearly as strenuous as I anticipated it to be. The application itself only takes a few hours. The most time consuming part is the motivational statement which allows you to explain why you are interested in joining the Peace Corps. The whole process from application to invitation was about 2 months, although everyone’s personal timeline varies by country and position. The longest stretch for me was between getting an “under consideration” email and an email requesting an interview. The interviewer gives you a ton of information to help you prepare for your interview and I also met with someone with Mason’s Career Services to practice, as well, which really helped me feel ready for my interview. I got an invitation to service within 5 days of my interview! 

What do you look most forward to about Comoros? I am most looking forward to meeting the people of Comoros and making connections within my community. Teaching Secondary English in Comoros will be my main job, but the Peace Corps really emphasizes integrating into your community, so I am really looking forward to participating in cultural events and really getting involved in my community. My Peace Corps cohort will be the first to implement “Let Girls Learn” in Comoros so I am also looking forward to integrating this into my teaching.