Dennis “DJ” Smith, 22, of Mitchell, S.D., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Tanzania Feb. 8 to begin training as a health education volunteer. Smith will live and work at the community level to make a difference building the capacity of primary school teachers, students, out-of-school youth, community groups and health service providers to understand and promote health in their communities. In addition, he will help raise awareness about primary health care and other related health issues, particularly HIV/AIDS.
“I joined the Peace Corps because of my strong beliefs in public service and passion for helping others,” Smith said. “I hope to be able to make a difference and be able to not only teach, but to learn from a different culture and group of people.”
Smith is the son of Pat and Veronnica Smith of Mitchell and a 2010 graduate of Mitchell High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
“Members of the political science department at USD said I would be a great volunteer, so I looked into it,” Smith said.
During the first three months of his service, Smith will live with a host family in Tanzania to learn the local language and integrate into the local culture. After acquiring the language and cultural skills that will help him make a lasting difference, Smith will be sworn into service and assigned to a community in Tanzania where he will serve for two years.
Smith will work in cooperation with the local people and partner organizations on sustainable, community-based development projects that improve the lives of people in Tanzania and help Smith develop leadership, technical and cross-cultural skills that will give him a competitive edge when he returns home. Peace Corps volunteers return from service as global citizens well-positioned for professional opportunities in today’s global job market.
“My goal after service is to affirm my passion for public service and attend graduate school for public policy,” Smith said.
Smith joins the 17 South Dakota residents currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 636 South Dakota residents have served as volunteers since the agency was created in 1961.