A new Peace Corps tour of 10 historically black college campuses and local barbershops that cater to the African-American community has been launched by Arkansan Dwayne Matthews, who wants the community to know how the international development agency helped “a guy like me, from Little Rock, Arkansas,” become a success.


His volunteer time with the Peace Corps “essentially molded me,” said Matthews, a Hall High graduate who joined after earning a master’s degree in community and economic development at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. “I was able to be around a distinguished group of people and that shifted the way that I thought.”

Matthews, 31, now works for the Peace Corps as a diversity recruiter. He launched the inaugural “HBCU Barbershop Tour” at Morgan State University and the Nile Barbershop in Baltimore earlier this month. “I figured the barbershop was the best place to break down barriers about what [men] thought the Peace Corps may be … just shed light on the benefits of the Peace Corps and Peace Corps service.”

Matthews started his two-year Peace Corps stint in 2013 in a village in Malawi, in southeast Africa. There he created “METHOD” — “Malawian Empowerment through Hip-Hop & Organizational Development” — which used music to promote healthy behavior. He also got a grant for a center for at-risk Malawian youths, completed HIV/AIDs trainings and worked on other health projects there.

Matthews said the tour is to recruit for the Peace Corps by letting people know what opportunities the service offers. The Peace Corps pays for travel costs, passports and visas, and helps its volunteers get into graduate school or work for the federal government.

“They’re not coming to me, so I’m going to go to them,” Matthews said. “The conversation [is] being had about international service and the type of foundation it can lay for you and for your family for years to come.”