For SPIA student Christopher Mixon, joining the Peace Corps was an easy decision. A senior from Columbus, Georgia, Mixon vividly remembers the first time he met a member of the Peace Corps.
“In sophomore year of high school, a recruiter from the Peace Corps came to our Current Issues Class,” Mixon said. “He told riveting stories of his time on site and dramatically drew a sword towards the end of his lecture. I don’t think he was allowed to bring that into a school, so it was unquestionably a memorable first encounter.”
The Peace Corps has been a leader in international development and citizen diplomacy for more than 50 years across more than 139 countries. In an increasingly interdependent world, the Peace Corps tackles challenges that know no borders, such as climate change, pandemic disease, food security, and gender equality and empowerment.
Mixon has been assigned to Swaziland in the southern region of Africa. In his country, the average life expectancy is 48 years old, with over 30% of the population testing HIV positive.
“I want to make a large scale impact on the lives of the residents of Swaziland,” he said. “ I hope this will be a life-changing experience not only for me, but for those I work with as well.”
For the last three years, Mixon has been heavily involved with the student organization UGA HEROs. The mission of the group is to improve the quality of life of children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS in Georgia through student support at the University level.
“I believe my work with HEROs highly resonated with the Peace Corps recruiters. They found my unique experience and matched me with a country in need – I could not be more enthusiastic about my placement.”
His role as a Health Extension Volunteer will allow him the opportunity to educate and foster relationships with patients in the local clinic. Additionally, Mixon hopes to design a worthwhile community outreach project to meet the needs of his village.
“I love working with and building computers. I hope to have the opportunity to utilize my unique skill set in a meaningful way.”
As a Political Science major, Mixon described how being a SPIA student has prepared him for his two-year service in the Peace Corps.
“SPIA has taught me to respect other cultures, governments, and languages, and to stay open-minded as I travel through various regions. I am excited to put my education to use as I foster relationships with a diverse set of people.”
Mixon will graduate in May and leave for training at the end of June. He reflected fondly on his time at the University and with the School.
“I will miss the professors and staff who have supported me over the past four years. It will be hard not to see or talk to them while I am away, but I know I will be making a difference in the world.”
For more information about the Peace Corps, please visit their website at http://www.peacecorps.gov/.