Peace Corps service
Samantha Vandre, 22, of Merrill, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Cambodia July 10 to begin training as health extension volunteer. Vandre will make a difference working in a health center on projects related to maternal and child health and infectious disease prevention and treatment.
“I was motivated to join the Peace Corps because I have always had a passion for helping others,” Vandre said. “I thought there would be no better way for me to represent my country than to use my unique set of skills and education to enhance the lives of others who are less fortunate.”
Vandre is the daughter of Michele Vandre of Merrill and a graduate of Merrill High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Marquette University in 2013, and her experiences at Marquette helped prepare her for international service and Peace Corps.
“Marquette’s mission of leadership, service, faith and excellence was one of the aspects that attracted me to this university,” Vandre said. “They provided me with opportunities to volunteer in the Milwaukee area and encouraged me to exceed my own expectations while exploring my independence.”
During the first three months of her service in Cambodia, Vandre will complete technical, language, health, and safety training while living with a host family to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. The training and cultural exchange prepare Vandre for her two years of service, while also allowing community members to gain a better understanding of Americans. After Vandre is sworn into service and assigned to a community, she will work on sustainable, community-driven development projects that make a difference for the people of Cambodia and provide Vandre with leadership and cross-cultural skills she can use throughout her career.
“I am not becoming a volunteer for the money or distinction,” she said. “Rather, I would just like to see that I can make a difference in the world and influence change.”
Vandre joins the 212 Wisconsin residents currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 5,740 Wisconsin residents have served as volunteers since the agency was created in 1961.
More than 255 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Cambodia since the program was established in 2007. Currently, 114 volunteers serve in Cambodia. Volunteers work in the areas of education and health. Volunteers are trained and work in the Khmer language.