Article courtesy of Peace Corps Public Affairs Office
Ayla Hagen ’18 has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Mongolia on May 29 to begin training as an English education teacher volunteer.
“I have always been a service-minded individual and have often sought ways to help those in my community and abroad in any way that I could. However, I firmly believe that service needs to have a meaningful and lasting impact. The Peace Corps accomplishes this by working with countries to establish projects based on their actual needs and long-term goals,” said Hagen of her desire to join the Peace Corps.
Hagen attended Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va., where she earned a bachelor of arts in history and sociology in May 2018.
During the first three months of her service, Hagen will live with a host family in Mongolia to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the necessary skills to assist her community, Hagen will be sworn into service and assigned to a community in Mongolia, where she will live and work for two years with the local people.
“My ultimate goal is to become a cultural anthropologist,” Hagen said. “By serving in the Peace Corps, I will have the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture that is different from my own and to gain greater understanding than any attained by reading a textbook. By assimilating to another culture, I will use and build language, observation, and evaluation skills which are vital to anthropological study and success.”
“As a fiber artist, I have spent a lot of time learning about Eastern and Middle-Eastern textiles and how cultural backgrounds influence textile production and usage,” Hagen continued. “As a traditionally nomadic country, Mongolia has a textile tradition that is very different from those found in other Asian countries. I find this fascinating and was genuinely excited when I saw the positions available in Mongolia.”
Hagen was also intrigued by the possibility of teaching English as a foreign language.
“Language is powerful; it connects people in a way that no other social element can,” Hagen said. “By learning a new language, we open doors that would otherwise be shut, and we gain access to opportunities and communities that would otherwise be inaccessible. I am truly honored and excited to have the chance to help others as they learn English and seek new opportunities.”
Hagen will work in cooperation with the local people and partner organizations on sustainable, community-based development projects that improve the lives of people in Mongolia and help her develop leadership, technical, and cross-cultural skills that will give her a competitive edge when she returns home. Peace Corps volunteers return from service as global citizens well-positioned for professional opportunities in today’s global job market.
About volunteers in Mongolia: There are more than 95 volunteers in Mongolia working with their communities on projects in education and health. During their service in Mongolia, volunteers learn to speak local languages, including Kazakh and Mongolian. More than 1,390 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Mongolia since the program was established in 1991.