Peace Corps: Reed sees service as investment

His studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison fostered Patrick Reed’s interest in exploring different cultures and perspectives. Add to that a desire to serve others.

Since receiving his B.A. in history and international studies from UW–Madison in 2011, Reed has followed a path of service.

“I traveled the country for two years, volunteering in impacted communities helping with recovery and capacity building,” says Reed, who served with AmeriCorps NCCC and FEMA Corps.

Next, his call to serve will carry the 26-year-old from Grayslake, Illinois, overseas. As one of the latest UW–Madison alumni to sign with the Peace Corps, he reports in mid-June 2016 as a community health extension volunteer in Swaziland, a small, landlocked country in southern Africa.

“My time at UW–Madison was a great first step in my pursuit of Peace Corps,” he says.

Patrick Reed
Patrick Reed

“I will work with my community to combat and overcome the many issues associated with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Swaziland,” he explains.  “The character of the work will be varied but will include a high level of community engagement and capacity building.”

Why join the Peace Corps?

“I believe that service to others is an investment in one’s self,” Reed explains.  “Peace Corps is an incredible challenge and opportunity for personal growth.  Through my service, I intend to further develop my professional skills, build a strong relationship with my community, and explore future work in community engagement and development abroad and at home.”

He recognizes that the road ahead will hold unforeseen obstacles and challenges. “I will welcome them with a persevering attitude and desire to learn.”

He adds, “I am most excited to explore and learn about Swazi culture from my host family.  I hope to learn a thing or two about how to prepare traditional Swazi foods and about their cultural expectations and norms.”

Just days before departing, Reed reflects further on how his time at UW–Madison helped to prepare him for the Peace Corps.

“University Theatre taught me how important it is to get out of your comfort zone, so that you can better connect with others and expand your perspective.  My courses in History and International Studies expanded my understanding of the world and the many different cultural perspectives it holds,” he says.

“The many friends I made amazed me, and continue to amaze me, with their determination, focus, and ability to self-motivate.”

He says, “In all, my time at UW–Madison challenged me to motivate myself and embrace different perspectives and ways of thinking.”

– by Kerry G. Hill