(WBIR-Downtown Knoxville) The Peace Corps is an international service organization that sends Americans across the world to help with pressing needs. The only recruiting office in Tennessee is right here in Knoxville.
Former volunteers recall their service fondly.
Wendy Syer still remembers a little bit of the language she learned in the Peace Corps in Malaysia 40 years ago.
"Lots of ways to say hello. Selamat pagi is good morning," she said.
Volunteering for the Peace Corps was her dream.
"This is what I'm going to do when I get out of college I'm going to be a Peace Corps volunteer. And I didn't think beyond that but you don't need to think beyond that because it takes care of itself I think," she said.
She taught math, English, and even physics - which she had never studied - in the native Malay language.
Teaching a subject that I didn't know in a language that I wasn't that good at that actually," she said.
The experience shaped her future.
"I think that's true of a lot of Peace Corps volunteers. They come out wanting to continue doing international something or other," she said.
Wendy Syer is now the Assistant Director for UT's Center for International Education. She is kind of a workaholic who has not taken to heart the laid back attitude of the people of Malaysia.
"They had an expression called enjoyla, just enjoy life," she said.
Amanda McRoy started her Peace Corp service in 2009.
"I was one of those volunteers who applied with all of the gusto and excitement but not a whole lot of skills," she said.
So Amanda McRoy became a certified nursing assistant and did some volunteering with the Red Cross.
She remembered opening her invitation to join five years ago.
"Oh my gosh I'm going to Cameroon. Let me go find that on a map," she said with a laugh.
It's in Central Africa. She later went to Zambia.
"I hope maybe I made a difference in one or two people's lives on some small scale but I don't think the people there will ever realize how much of a difference they made in my life," she said.
Now she is a graduate assistant at UT who is in charge of Peace Corps recruiting.
"It's been such a blessing to be able to continue talking about my experiences and getting people in the Knoxville area excited about service and excited about the international community," she said.
Countries request a Peace Corps presence. Right now about 65 countries participate. For the volunteers it's a 27 month commitment and an experience of a lifetime.
"I don't need to sell it. It sells itself," she said.
Peace Corps volunteers are volunteers, but all expenses are paid and they do get a stipend.