Tuesday, June 23, 2009

So You Wanna Join the Peace Corps....

I stumbled upon a site today that I thought would be very useful for those who are pondering about entering into an adventure of there lives...Here are some great info from this site.

"Ahhhhh, the Peace Corps. Meandering through a rural village in an exotic place where no one speaks your language. Palm trees and romantic monsoons. Elephants and water buffaloes lumbering past your front porch. Grass huts and smiling children looking up at you adoringly.

These are probably the stereotypical images that come to your mind when you think of the Peace Corps. Well here's a reality check: what appears to be adoration in those children's eyes may simply be a look of amusement, as in, "Who's that freak with the ugly sandals?" Also, there's as much chance that you'll find yourself in the urban center of Kazakhstan as in a grass hut in Fiji. Two potentially equally rewarding, but vastly differing environments.

The reality is that each Peace Corps volunteer's experience varies greatly from every other's, and your best bet is to simply get rid of any and all preconceived notions of how life in the Corps will be. If you have little or no tolerance for uncertainty, stop reading now. The Peace Corps is not for you.

What is the Peace Corps?

Basically, joining the Peace Corps means that you'll go to a foreign country (where English may not be spoken) and do some kind of service there at the request of its government. Whether it's teaching, or helping sick children, or working with the government on cleaning up an urban city, it's probably not going to be the kind of work we usually think of as "glamorous."

The world has changed since John F. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps in 1961. Although many volunteers still live and work in rural villages, and haul their drinking water from a nearby river, it is now just as common to find a volunteer giving computer training to university staff in a city and going home at night to electricity and running water.

What hasn't changed is the fact that joining the Peace Corps is a JOB, and volunteers still work, teach, and learn while completely immersed in another culture for two years (that's approximately 730 days, for those of you scoring at home). They have the chance to participate in a professional and cultural exchange that can have life-long educational benefits for all parties involved. Volunteers have the opportunity to prove that Americans' lives are not identical to those of the characters on Beverly Hills, 90210. Likewise, the country's citizens can prove that there's more to a country than what you see on CNN.

This SYW will present the logistics of how to apply to join the Peace Corps, what to expect and what not to expect, and perhaps debunk some Peace Corps myths. For instance, no, not all volunteers know how to sing "Kumbayah," and yes, many Republicans do join and love the experience. It also may be helpful to know that the age range of volunteers is 18 to 65. Seven thousand volunteers currently serve in 78 countries around the world, with the largest numbers in the fields of education and health, followed closely by environment and business. Facts like these are just begging to appear on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?





Yes, we've continually repeated the importance of commitment when joining the Peace Corps. There are definitely going to be some difficult times. There will be days when the hours just crawl by and you will ask yourself what the hell you are doing there. You will ponder the meaning of life and question the significance of your presence in this world. This is when you have to suck it up and play down the drama. After all, these are also common musings during coffee breaks at work in the U.S., right? In such dire times, also remember that you're pretty much a guest of the government just visiting. Most of the people live there year-round. So stop your bitching.

Yes, there will also be many, many times when you look around and are thoroughly amazed and excited at where you are and what you are doing. This may be a less likely stateside coffee break musing - unless it's damn good coffee.

The Peace Corps does an excellent job of providing a strong in-country support system, addressing both your physical and psychological needs. You'll have access to good health care and a library of resource materials that can be of great professional help. The network of support you will depend on the most will probably be the group of other volunteers in the country who are sharing your experience. Be friendly and talk to them. You're all in it together. It is VERY unlikely that you will be dropped in the middle of a desert completely alone with no other volunteers within a 2,000 mile radius.

If, nay, WHEN you do decide to join the Peace Corps, you can be assured it will be a life-changing experience. There is one statement that many a returned volunteer will readily confirm that has become a motto of the Peace Corps: it is indeed "the toughest job you'll ever love."

To read info for #1-#3 go here

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