Karen Kilberg, 21, of Batavia, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Cameroon Sept. 11 to begin training as a community health education volunteer. Kilberg will make a difference promoting immunizations for mothers and children, malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning, and hygiene and sanitation.
“While I was in high school I attended a returned Peace Corps volunteer’s welcome home party and listened to her stories of when she served in Eastern Europe,” Kilberg said. “It was the first time I had come to know of the Peace Corps, and her stories stayed with me until I decided to apply.”
Kilberg is the daughter of Mary and Steven Kilberg of Batavia and a 2010 graduate of Batavia High School. She graduated from DePaul University in Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies in 2013.
“During college I had several professors who specialize in Africa and development work who inspired me to choose this path,” Kilberg said. “I did two internships in small medical clinics in Sierra Leone during my sophomore and junior year of college, both of which taught me the struggles and triumphs of working in the field of development.”
During the first three months of her service in Cameroon, Kilberg will complete technical, language, health, and safety training while living with a host family to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. The training and cultural exchange prepare Kilberg for her two years of service, while also allowing community members to gain a better understanding of Americans. After Kilberg is sworn into service and assigned to a community, she will work on sustainable, community-driven development projects that make a difference for the people of Cameroon and provide Kilberg with leadership and cross-cultural skills she can use throughout her career.
After Peace Corps, Kilberg hopes to work in rural development or health for an internationally-based NGO, preferably in Africa. “While I have a long list of both personal and professional goals I hope to achieve during my service, I understand that 27 months is a long time for change to happen, so I’m open to the unforeseen opportunities that will present themselves and accomplishments I will achieve throughout my service,” Kilberg said.
Kilberg joins the 352 Illinois residents currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 8,157 Illinois residents have served as volunteers since the agency was created in 1961.
About Peace Corps/Cameroon: Nearly 3,380 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Cameroon since the program was established in 1962. Currently, 231 volunteers serve in Cameroon. Volunteers work in the areas of education, environment, agriculture, health, business, and information technology. Volunteers are trained and work in Pidgin English and French.
About the Peace Corps: Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 210,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 8,073 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment and the agency’s mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.