Jerry Hildebrand, director of the social impact lab, brought the Ambassador Corps program to Lynn one year ago, modeled after the U.S. government’s Peace Corps.
Hildebrand went overseas for the first time when he joined the Peace Corps in its initial states in the 1960s. Part of the Kennedy administration, the grass-roots driven program was focused on giving individuals the opportunity to travel the world, create change and have a hands-on experience in communities around the globe.
“The Ambassador Corps program was based on my Peace Corps experience,” said Hildebrand. “My feeling was that everyone was going to partake in a program for two years, but [instead] we could develop a crash Peace Corps experience for 8 to ten weeks in the summer by sending students to developing countries.”
The Ambassador Corps program began one decade ago and Lynn is the third institution to join the initiative. More than 200 students have safely taken part in the program in more than 55 countries across the world. Students joining the initiative learn what it is like to serve at a legitimate local organization, led by individuals within that community.
“It is not study abroad,” said Hildebrand. “They [students] are not a tourist or a free agent. They work for a social impact organization in the country they visit and have the opportunity to select it as well.”
This summer, those in Lynn’s Ambassador Corps will be able to choose among Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica and Rwanda. Students can earn up to six academic credits for participating in the program.
“The local organization wants this to be a win-win situation,” said Hildebrand. “[It is] a win for the student who will receive a quality experience, and a win for the host organization that benefits from having the student work with them on their terms or priorities.”
To complete the program, there are three parts – training, apprenticeship and certification. After the intensive, on-campus training has been completed, the students go to their countries and complete their apprenticeship. Following a successful trip abroad, those in the Ambassador Corps receive their official certification, showcasing their completion of the program.
Ambassador Corps also has a scholarship fund, allowing those who may face financial challenges to also partake in the program. The fund may cover airfare and living allowances, depending on the individual.
Those interested in learning more about the scholarship or ways to join the Ambassador Corps mission can visit the Social Impact Lab on the third floor of the university center.