Honored at UVM event promoting the importance of global service
John William Meyer, 24, of Shelburne, completed his Peace Corps service as a youth development volunteer in Peru on July 20 and returned home to the United States. While in Peru, Meyer implemented a highly successful Camp JUMP (Jovenes Motivados por el Progreso) seminar, which gave kids the chance to work on a community garden, meet mentors, hear speakers from the local university, and travel throughout the region to learn more about history and national resources.
For more than two years, Meyer lived and worked in Jangas, Ancash, Peru, promoting greater opportunities for local youth by organizing health promotion groups, leadership camps, and sustainable agricultural projects.
Meyer said the health promotion youth group he put together started out informally as a group of local kids discussing health topics and ideas over pancakes. From there, with the help of a fellow volunteer, the project grew into a college-style class with readings, homework, and a final exam on preventive health measures. Today, the group is sponsored by a multi-national company and participating kids have been traveling and teaching their peers about health safety and disease prevention for over a year.
“As the saying goes, ‘if you think education is expensive, try ignorance,’” said Meyers. “My mom is a child psychologist. I’ve always been taught that fundamental change involves lots of dedication and one-on-one work with children, and that you are never to give up on any child. Taking these lessons with me to Peru, I have seen firsthand the importance of youth development. Youth development’s effects aren’t as easy to see as an infrastructure project’s because the changes made are on the inside. These changes are the toughest to come by, but the most lasting.”
Meyer graduated from Middlebury College in 2010, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics and history with a minor in Spanish.
Meyer was honored by Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams (returned Peace Corps volunteer, Dominican Republic, 1967-1970) and Sen. Patrick Leahy at an event at the University of Vermont in Burlington. The event promoted the importance of global service and highlighted the contributions of Vermont’s current and returned Peace Corps volunteers. A reception at ECHO Lake Aquarium in Burlington last Thursday followed the event.
Meyer was one of the 47 Vermont residents currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 1,422 Vermont residents have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.