ASU student joins Peace Corps, brings her heritage, ambition to Kosovo


Gabriel Sandler

A new class of Arizona State University graduates are looking to join the workforce or continue school. Alisa Turkina, however, has two years before that stage. Not for lack of options, but for the opportunity to live and teach in Kosovo as Peace Corps volunteer.

“My interest has always been very cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary, which is part of the reason I double majored [in finance and Russian],” Turkina said. “I really wanted to not just travel abroad, but live abroad and work abroad.”

“I always have an interest in places outside of the U.S.,” Turkina continued, “and specifically because of my Russian background, Russian speaking countries.”

Turkina, though already a finance major and Russian heritage speaker, studied at ASU's School of International Letters and Cultures to increase her language skills and cultural awareness.

“I didn’t really feel comfortable speaking outside of simple, conversational Russian,” Turkina explained. “I decided to actually pursue it in college, partially because I was interested and partially because I had always been thinking about pursuing some kind of international business career or going into international law or policy.”

Through the Kosovo Peace Corps program, Turkina saw an opportunity to apply her skills. She will be able to teach, as well as participate in local programs that are more professionally oriented.

The Kosovo Peace Corps program hosts only 60 volunteers who worked on a variety of educational and economic development programs.

According to the Peace Corps program description, as an educator, Turkina will, “become involved in local projects based on the needs of their communities. These projects take many forms depending on the skills and experience of individual volunteers, but the projects are always based on the expressed needs of the schools and the communities.”

Turkina has been preparing for the trip since October. In addition to information she will receive during a brief orientation in Pennsylvania, she has reviewed academic reports from the World Bank, Brookings Institute and other independent organizations.

“I’m preparing myself for what the culture is going to be like the best I can,” Turkina said. “I think the biggest gift my parents gave me was to teach me Russian and to make me bilingual ... I think the most useful thing anyone can have is more than one perspective.”

Turkina departs for Kosovo at the end of May.