Phillip Goldman ’10 and Katie Serock ’12 have spent the past year leading lives of consequence in Panama as they continue their devoted service to the Peace Corps-an experience both describe as life-changing.
With a focus on education, sustainability and restoration, each is serving a specific community for two years with the goal of making a lasting impact on their respective communities.
“Joining the Peace Corps makes me feel like I am doing something good for the world,” says Serock, who graduated with a B.A. in environmental studies and a minor in Latin American studies. “In the community I am stationed, there needs to be more education about conservation and living harmoniously with the environment.”
Serock is stationed in Los Santos, Panama-a town of just 50 people. Her projects include assisting in the reforestation of the farmland, teaching English, constructing a playground in the community and working with a local artisan group that makes recycled jewelry.
She first became interested in joining the Peace Corps during high school when she realized how much she enjoyed traveling and conservation. While working at a wildlife refuge in Maine, one of her managers pushed her to apply during her senior year at HWS.
On campus, Serock was a member of the William Smith tennis team, served as an environmental representative, volunteered at the daycare center in Geneva and at the Geneva Business Improvement District office.
Meanwhile, Goldman is stationed in the town of San Juan de Dios in the province of Cocle, located roughly two and a half hours outside of Panama City. There, he is part of the Teaching English sector at the community’s K-9 school, where he assists English teachers with lesson planning, classroom management, and any classroom activities that help improve the effectiveness of teaching methods.
“Our goal in the Peace Corps is to make the work we do as sustainable as possible,” says Goldman, who graduated with a B.A. in Latin American and a minor in history. “By working with the teachers instead of replacing the teachers, we hope that the teachers can continue to use the skills and activities that we develop even after our service is complete.”
Goldman, whose father served in the Peace Corps in the 1980s, has had an interest in the Peace Corps for most of his life. While at HWS, his interest turned into a reality.
“My interactions with President Gearan had a significant impact on my desire to join the Peace Corps,” he says of the former Director of the Peace Corps. “I was fortunate to have several one-on-one conversations with him throughout my time on campus.”
In the photo above, Phillip Goldman ’10 and Katie Serock ’12 pose for a photo with Brian Riley, the country director for the Peace Corps in Panama.