To understand how international service affects people long after they've returned home, we're following up with the four American college students featured in H.O.P.E. Was Here: A Volunteer Travel Documentary, who we observed during their one-week alternative spring break volunteer trip to Peru in 2012.
Chris Kefalas, a college senior in the film, has since graduated and completed his Master's in Criminal Justice at Northeastern University. We asked him about his decision to pursue public service, and how volunteering abroad may have played a role.
When and why did you decide to pursue a career in public service?
I decided to pursue a career in criminal justice when I was leaving high school. My father is a police officer at a local university and I always looked up to him. Later in my collegiate career, I decided I wanted to specifically work in federal policing.
How has volunteering abroad in Peru affected your career?
My decision [to pursue criminal justice] was only reaffirmed by working with others in a foreign country. Public service is a huge portion of all types of policing work and it was another sign that I thoroughly enjoyed helping people from all walks of life. This trip, from a practical implication standpoint, allowed me to practice my Spanish speaking ability with native speakers. This will help, and has currently helped, me communicate effectively with Spanish speakers. Any time you get to see how the other side lives, you adapt and become more understanding of the position of others. In my line of work, building relationships and trust is crucial to obtaining necessary information. I would without a doubt say it has made me a better public servant and reflecting back on the trip, I only see positive things for how it impacts me.
Where do you work now and where do you see yourself in the next five or ten years?
I currently work for U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services in Boston. I handle all of the drug testing in the Boston office of clients on pretrial and post conviction. I hope to be working in federal law enforcement within the next few years, specifically working as an special agent/criminal investigator.
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