Meet International Studies Alumni and Peace Corp Volunteer Zain Joseph

Meet International Studies Alumni and Peace Corp Volunteer Zain Joseph

Meet International Studies Alumni and Peace Corp Volunteer Zain Joseph

Tell me what are you currently doing? What’s your title? What have you done since graduating from Rowan?

So since I graduated, I’ve worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I’ve also been applying to other jobs. One of which is the volunteer youth development specialist position in Morocco with the Peace Corp.

You were one of the first graduates in the International Studies program? What brought you to Rowan and that major?

First I went to Rowan College at Gloucester County and from there I wanted to do liberal arts here, but was also given the options of history and geography. That same year, the international studies major became available. After I looked into it, I learned that it was more internationally focused. So I liked that idea and I chose that major. 

What attracted you to the Peace Corp and what did your family and friends say when you said you were going?

I’ve heard about the Peace Corp. since I was in high school. One of my history teachers talked about it and what it does. I never thought about it until graduating from college. I learned that Morocco is the only Arabic country in the Peace Corp. And I speak Arabic as it’s my first language, so I decided that would be a good match for me. My family and friends were all happy that I was doing this. It’s a change, it’s experience and I’m helping others as well hopefully. So overall hopefully it’s a good experience for the future. 

You came to this country at age 16, tell me a little about your background. Where are you from? Where have you lived?

I was born in Iraq. I left in 2003 at 11 years-old. Then, I went to Syria where I lived for four years in Damascus. I also lived in Turkey for a year, and then I came to the U.S. when I was 16. Living in South Jersey since then. I’m from Washington Township.

What will you be doing in Morocco with the Peace Corp?

I will be a youth development specialist. I will be helping young people in Morocco in a youth center with activities; setting up a class to teach English as a second language and geography clubs or any kind of activities for the youth. My service will be about two years and three months. The first three months will be training and then the other two years will be the service.

What will you miss about home?

There’s a lot of things I’m going to miss. I’m going to miss my work environment right now. I’m working at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and I really like the culture there and the people. So I’m going to miss that environment. I’m going to miss South Jersey. I’ve been here for 10 years and I don’t think I’ve stayed that long in one place. I’ve always been used to changing since my early life. So these past 10 years have been very stable. So now I’m back to changing again. 

Have you had other volunteer opportunities in New Jersey?

I’ve worked in a paid position with Catholic charities. I worked with helping people coming from overseas with resettling, taking them to doctor’s appointments, school, translate for them and all different kinds of things for newcomers who come here. The Peace Corp is a volunteer opportunity, but it’s a paid opportunity so they give you a stipend. They give you enough money for housing and food. 

How do you think your time here at Rowan prepared you for your service in the Peace Corp and also living abroad?

The international studies degree is interesting because you always think of yourself as international-related. The major was very diverse. My international studies classes included five majors. Iit was a little bit of geography, anthropology, political science, economics and history.  These were the five main aspects that we focused on. I bought my international studies book because I was so interested in the class and I always look through it. And same thing with my senior seminar class. The classes were about bridging different aspects from different majors and putting it all together. Like the Peace Corp. It’s an American agency but works abroad. So because of the title of my degree, ironically I’m always thinking abroad and globally on different levels. 

What are you most excited about learning or experiencing while in Morocco?

I’m always curious about the world in general and I don’t know if that’s because of my background since I grew up in cosmopolitan areas and different nations. So I’m always curious about different countries. I’m interested in interacting with the culture and people, and exploring the geography in Morocco. I want to be a part of that and be an active part of the communities. All of these things such as learning about new people and seeing new countries are things that excite me and I’m happy about.

Have you thought about what you might do when you return? You’re going to spend two years and three months and you’re going to be involved in all aspects of education, humanitarian efforts, etc. What do you think it’s going to prepare you for when you come back?

I’m hoping that I’m going to have a clearer vision after my  two years of experience in the Peace Corp. But hopefully I will stay with something with in international studies. Something like working in Washington, D.C. or with another international organization. Or maybe even stay in the Peace Corp in a different position. 

What advice do you have for current or future international studies majors?

I’ve been out of college just two years so I haven’t had a lot of experience yet. I would definitely say international studies is a very broad degree. And there’s different aspects that you can focus on within it. I had a specialization in Global Comparative Perspectives so it’s always good to know what you want to do with it. But,I would tell students don’t worry if you don’t know right now because at some point you will. I never regretted going into international studies. My family and friends would say, “That’s too broad.” or “You might not find a job right away,” but if you like that aspect of it like I did stick with it you’ll find your way through. At some point you’ll find some kind of path.

What activities do you enjoy and hope to do while in Morocco?

I like art. I worked in an art museum and my manager told me that maybe we can start an art club there. That could be a fun activity.