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Peace Corps Student Profiles: Leland Garivaltis

Leland Garivaltis
Master's International PCV Peru 2012-2014
M.A. Comparative and Regional Studies

As an SIS student in the Comparative and Regional Studies program I was able to specifically pursue my interest in Latin America while simultaneously discovering the new field of International Development. I have always been interested in the inequality and distribution of wealth disparities in Latin America, and the Master’s International program at SIS offered the perfect opportunity to put my academic studies, personal interest, and professional aspiration to work as I embark on my journey as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Perú. 

I am a PCV living in the Peruvian Andes. I work in Youth Development. The primary goals of this program are to teach healthy lifestyle practices to youths: sexual health, self-esteem, drug and alcohol use and abuse, nutrition. Secondly, we work to prepare high school students for his or her next phase in life whether it be the university, institute, pre-college preparation, or work in the family’s store. Lastly, as volunteers ourselves, we work to organize, promote and facilitate youth volunteerism with the hopes for creating a community project of which the students lead and design. I work on three main projects: malnutrition, reading comprehension, and adolescent sexual health. 

My community diagnostic coupled with my time spent at site have exposed these aforementioned areas as the most important and critical to the overall betterment of the quality of life and the futures of children and adolescents in Chiquián. The Health Post and countless community partners have really been the motivation and driving forces behind the development of a plan to combat malnutrition in children under the age of three and various projects for adolescents where we can discuss sexual health and personal development.

I feel that my background as an MI student has helped me to put my work as a Peace Corps Volunteer into the greater development perspective.Graduate statistics, international relations theory, and development theory courses have opened my eyes to new realities and paradigms that I can clearly see in my small community in rural Perú.