Brian Goercke has a soft spot in his heart for kids. When trouble in the Zimbabwe countryside forced him and other Peace Corps volunteers to move to the capital city of Harare he began working in a residential shelter for street children.
So it wasn't strange that when he came to study in the Policy Center as a Peace Corps Fellow he wanted to continue working with children. At Community Human Services in Pittsburgh's South Oakland neighborhood Brian created a literacy program for at-risk youth and tutored there for two years in basic reading, comprehension and writing.
Brian's interest in AIDS, stemming from his experiences in Zimbabwe, led to his thesis on the impact that traditional beliefs were having on efforts to intervene in the epidemic in that country.
After graduating from the Policy Center Brian served as a Crisis Corps volunteer with Namibia's Ministry of Education. There he developed a regional Positive Speakers program, which enabled people living with HIV/AIDS to speak with school students and teachers about HIV prevention and positive living strategies. In 2005 he accepted a long-term consultancy as Program Officer with Family Health International Namibia, where he supervised and provided technical assistance to four HIV/AIDS outreach organizations in three regions of the country.
In 2006 Brian became the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the former Johns Hopkins University field office in Namibia, which transitioned to a non-governmental organization, NawaLife Trust. At NawaLife Trust Brian oversees USAID quarterly reports, coordinates and presents regional HIV/AIDS research and provides training to program staff and partner organizations.
Reflecting back on his experience in the Policy Center, Brian said, "The Policy Center strengthened my writing skills and broadened my understanding of domestic and international issues. It also provided me the social science background I needed to pursue a career in HIV/AIDS research and communications in Southern Africa. The Fellows program gave me valuable intern experience, increasing my understanding of homelessness in the USA and giving me the chance to conduct educational programs for at-risk youth."