Peace Corps CS Skill Addendum
These were the final essays I wrote for the Official Invitation phase of Peace Corps process. Enjoy!
Name: Sandeep Koorse
Country of Service: Kingdom of Tonga
Date of Departure: February 2002
Professional (all related to IT)
- Freelance ASP / Cold Fusion Development (6/2000) – Worked on several small projects involving getting small businesses up to speed on the web. Some projects involved starting from scratch and developing new systems from the ground up that could be updated and used by people without technical backgrounds. Some projects were revisions of existing code that was either broken or no longer needed. Streamlining systems to remove repetitive input was also popular, and I also had a few projects utilizing new technology to replace process steps.
- IBM SurfAid E-Commerce Consulting (3/2000 – 2/2001) – Interacted with clients on a daily basis on using complex data mining tools to help them get the most out of their websites. Although there was some AIX programming involved, most of the work revolved around maintaining these client tools.
- DOS / UNIX Tutor for AT&T and Lucent Technologies (Summer 1999) – Taught AT&T and Lucent employees about DOS and UNIX
- SAIC Contract at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (Summer 1999) – Created a basic inventory system for the IT department and developed a few dynamic pages for shuttle parts
- computer moms International (5/1998 – 10/1998) – was the web designer for the group and helped out on technical support for the computer moms on call. Eventually, I got to hook all the computers up to a network and act as a sys admin
Volunteer (related to IT or teaching/mentoring)
- Business Honors Program (1998-1999) – served as a peer mentor during my sophomore and junior years and helped get freshman adjusted to the rigors of this educational program
- Men Against Sexual Assault (2000-2001) – Educated men about sexual assault through seminars with a special emphasis placed on male responsibility (“changing the world for women one man at a time”). I served as its Vice President of Public Relations and maintained its website while reaching out to the Austin community
- Student Volunteer Board (1998-2000) – Increase awareness and promotes ongoing volunteerism to individuals and student organizations. I served as the Vice Chair for the board and created the University’s first community service portal – http://www.utvolunteer.org . This organization is also very closely affiliated with Project 2000 and Project 2001, which were the largest single community service events ever at the University. I worked as their web administrator and as one of their project coordinators
- Texas Blazers (1999-2001) – I served as this organization’s Vice-Chair of Community Service and was responsible for organizing all its community service activities. I was also in charge of coordinating our outstanding mentoring program with a local high school male involvement project (the X-Y Zone). Currently, through various scholarships and through our association with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the Texas Blazers contributes several thousand dollars to this great cause
I spent four and a half years at the University of Texas at Austin working on an MIS/Business Honors degree. I’ve also spent a great deal of hours taking courses in Communications and Asian Studies. Here are some details about my two major fields of study:
- Management Information Systems (MIS) – At the time of my graduation, the University of Texas had an overall undergraduate business program ranked #5 in the nation by US News and World Report while the MIS program was ranked #4 in the nation. MIS is kind of like a combination of Computer Science and Business with a focus on databases, networks, and consulting. It focuses more on client interaction than coding. Its primarily goal is to give students an effective framework for dealing with problems in the constantly changing world of technology
- Business Honors Program (BHP) – This is an advanced undergraduate program in the Business School which provides intense application of business skills in order to answer reality-based scenarios and situations. By using Harvard business cases and various other tools, the BHP provides undergraduates with an MBA type experience through its special classes. Teamwork is emphasized throughout the business school, but is taken to a higher level within this program
- Digital Photography – I can take any image and enhance it for use in projects, presentations, or slideshows. I have a lot of experience with photo editing programs and with multimedia equipment such as scanners
- Web Design I love designing websites and have been working with web technologies for the past seven years
- 4 Years of French at Clements High School in Sugar Land, Texas(1993-1997)
- 3 Years of Arabic as in elementary and middle school in Kuwait (1987-1990)
- 2 Years of Hindi as a child (1987-1989)
- My family speaks Kannada (a language in the Southern region of India) at home
My Expectations of Peace Corps Service
I hope that my Peace Corps experience remains true to the slogan “toughest job you’ll ever love”. I want to be challenged, and I fully expect that my years of service will be filled with occupational and social difficulties. I’m excited about the prospects of learning something new, and teaching what I know to those who can benefit from it. I look forward to fully representing the United States by using my talents to contribute to the community.
I hope that over the course of my project many Tongan youths will become passionate about computers and find new ways to adapt them to their needs. I doubt that I’ll have the latest technology, but I’m certain that it won’t be difficult to find subtle ways in which technology can enhance the lives of those around me. I anticipate that it may be difficult for me to teach things that I’ve taken for granted, and that there is a chance that I won’t be able to show people how software works hands-on (possibly due to a lack of enough computers). I know that the project is unstructured and while that may make things difficult, it will offer me a great deal of flexibility. I enjoy taking creative approaches to accomplish my goals.
My Strategies for Adapting to a New Culture
I intend to do everything in my power to become a contributing member of my community. Although I am not Christian, I will attend church every Sunday if they will let me, and I will adhere to their principles of law and clothing. I have no preconceived notions of what my lifestyle will be, and I don’t need any special accommodations to enjoy my time in Tonga. I’ve spent most of my life moving from different communities, and I don’t expect that this experience will be any different. I’ve always been a minority in both ethnicity and religion, and I think I would be less comfortable if that wasn’t the case. I’ve spent a lot of time researching Polynesian lifestyles, and I’m very excited about integrating portions of the Tongan culture into my own routines.
My Personal and Professional Goals for Peace Corps Service
One of the main reasons I joined the Peace Corps is because of my obligation to the United States. I was born in California, but I spent most of my childhood in Kuwait. In 1990, my family survived the Gulf War and returned to the US as refugees mainly due to the fact that I was an American citizen. Ever since then I’ve wanted to serve the country in some manner, and the Peace Corps is the best way for me to utilize my talents. I’m also looking forward to showing people that Americans come in all colors, and that we’re not as self-absorbed as the media may portray us.
Professionally, I think the Peace Corps will give me the experience I need to become more successful in any potential career or continued education. I also find myself at a crossroad where I need to consider what I’m looking for in a full-time profession – do I continue to look for material wealth or is working with the community more important to me? I’m not certain whether the Peace Corps will adequately answer this question, but I’m certain that this will be the best chance for me to explore the issue before I am burdened by other commitments.