Did you hear that Atlas Corps is also known as a “reverse Peace Corps”? That’s because while Atlas Corps brings social change leaders from around the world to the United States, Peace Corps sends motivated American changemakers to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. Peace Corps volunteers are motivated American changemakers who promote world peace and friendship in over 60 countries to create change that lasts long after their service.

It’s important to build bridges, especially in time of closed borders. That’s why today we want to tell you about Atlas Corps team members who participated in Peace Corps Programs. Below we are sharing a short feature on Lizzie Utset, a current Program Associate at Atlas Corps and Reserve Peace Corps Volunteer (China, 2017-2019). Lizzie served at Southwest University, Rongchang campus in China, teaching oral English classes to freshmen students.

At Atlas Corps, we have a tradition of stating our “Five Facts” when introducing ourselves to new people. What are your five facts?

Name: Lizzie Utset

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida

Role at Atlas Corps: Program Associate

Social Issue/Interest Area: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Fun fact: I went bungee jumping when I was 14 years old and didn’t tell my parents about it until after it happened (and they were very upset)!

How is your Peace Corps experience helping you to work with Fellows at Atlas Corps?

My experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in China was both immensely rewarding and immensely challenging. I met incredible students and grew as an educator, mentor, and friend; but, at the same time, I struggled with homesickness, loneliness, cultural adaptation, and more. Without the support and enduring positivity of my Program Managers, Sandy and Lulu, I would have let the challenges overwhelm my entire experience.

Now, working for Atlas Corps, I try my best to channel my experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer, along with the empathy and active listening skills I learned from Sandy and Lulu, in order to support the Fellows I manage. I strive to do my best to encourage them to navigate cultural and professional challenges and make the most of their experience in the United States. 

Why did you decide to join the Atlas Corps team after you finished your Peace Corps program?

After finishing my Peace Corps service, I wanted to work for Atlas Corps because I truly believe in the Atlas Corps “reverse Peace Corps” model. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I worked with talented, intelligent, and passionate groups of students who dreamed of traveling to the United States to work and study. However, many of these students were born and raised in small towns in China’s countryside, and did not have the financial resources to pay for expensive travel and study abroad programs.

Talent exists everywhere, but opportunity does not. I am proud to be a part of a team that is expanding opportunities for social change leaders around the world to come to the United States to pursue their professional and personal dreams!

Support Atlas Corps Fellows during COVID-19

Help us to support Atlas Corps Fellows who cannot return home because of the COVID-19 lockdown. These Fellows face unique, unbudgeted, and completely unexpected expenses. Donations of ANY size make a big difference!

Donate at bit.ly/Fellowsupportfund