April 22, With diplomats stuck inside barricaded compounds or loath to venture from expatriate residential ghettos, a Peace Corps volunteer is likely to be the only representative of the U. As the State Department cuts back on its public diplomacy and cultural exchange programs, the Peace Corps predominantly young volunteers wind up carrying more and more of the responsibility for demonstrating that the United States still has good intentions abroad. That puts the Peace Corps and its volunteers in an awkward position.
Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you.
In fact, the organization -- started by President Kennedy in as an outlet for Americans to help with international development and promote cross-cultural exchange -- is now probably the best-known volunteer abroad program open to American citizens.
But despite the attention from the press, TV references and endless information available about joining the Peace Corps, most of us still wish there were a few things someone had told us about our service before we decided to join. As a current PCV about to finish up my service or, as we say, "about to C.
After asking around the Peace Corps network, here are 10 things we all wish we had known before getting ourselves into this crazy but wonderful adventure we call the Peace Corps.
Talk to a returned Peace Corps volunteer Whether you end up meeting someone who served in the country or region you are interested in serving in or elsewhere, knowing a returned Peace Corps volunteer is a great way to learn about the everyday aspects of being a volunteer and how their expectations measured up to the actual experience.
Most PCVs end up affecting their communities and host country in smaller, and often less visible ways. No one else had ever done that and it really meant a lot," recalled one higher official in Ghana, "so I decided to study math in university. Anything that is immediately essential to your health or safety while serving, Peace Corps will provide for you.
You can get even smaller stuff from Peace Corps, like sunscreen, bug spray, bandages and tampons in some countries. Even just being an English speaker is enough to base a friendship off of.
Every Peace Corps experience is different Even within countries, each individual volunteer has their own, unique experience as a volunteer.
Likewise, not all advice you get from other volunteers will necessarily apply to you. We all joined the Peace Corps for different reasons. We all have different histories.
Every Peace Corps country program is run differently The quality of each Peace Corps program varies between countries. However, if they have just opened or reopened because of previous political instability and evacuation, for example you may be entering a work in progress.
Information on program quality can be found by looking at survey results for each country on Peace Corps Wiki. Departure dates can be found for each country as well. You will have enormous amounts of free time Especially in the months following pre-service training PSTyou will find yourself with little to do as you learn the language, integrate into your community and figure out what projects you want to start.
Even as your service progresses and you get a few projects started, you may still be surprised with the large amounts of free time you have, and the creative ways you start to fill it. There are even some Youtube videos, like Poop in a Holethat I wish I had seen before my departure.
They capture the fact that our lives as PCVs are different from what we had at home. In most Peace Corps countries, you may stand out and get an unusual amount of attention for it. You may have to poop in a hole. In short, you will have to integrate not only into a different culture, but a different lifestyle, which can be difficult but is all part of the challenge of doing Peace Corps.
No matter if you have two years to commit or only two weeks, there are organizations out there that can help you contribute to a meaningful volunteer project abroad. While there are some key differences between short and long-term projects, the underlying importance is that you DO move abroad to volunteer.
Peace Corps allows for flexibility in the projects you do Although you are assigned to one, primary assignment, volunteers have a lot of freedom to branch out and work on other, secondary projects.
Your service is a great way to take the things you are passionate about and apply them to your work. As long as you do your assigned job, Peace Corps allows for and encourages its volunteers to branch out and take on multiple projects. Deciding to join the Peace Corps is no light decision, but it was one of the best ones I have made.
Although there are things we all wish we had known before applying for or departing for our service in the Peace Corps, figuring out these little things along the way was all part of the adventure and challenge of being a PCV. The views and opinions reflected in this blog are mine and mine alone.
They do not represent the position of the United States government or the Peace Corps. This post originally appeared on Go Overseas.The Peace Corps is one of the smallest instruments in the foreign policy toolkit of the United States. It is a “boutique” agency with a superb reputation.
The Bush administration has proposed doubling the number of Peace Corps volunteers working in developing countries to 14, by , still below the peak of over 15, volunteers. Each volunteer can recall different aspects of serving in the Peace Corps that were fundamental to forming their being: strength, dedication, hard work or communication.
With their team of dedicated volunteers, the Peace Corps has helped over 60 countries in many different fields. Peace Corps Volunteers carry out people-to-people public service and citizen diplomacy at the grassroots level. Drawn from all corners of the United States, Volunteers work to address challenges in agriculture, community economic development, education.
Volunteer with United States Peace Corps.
Find United States Peace Corps volunteering opportunities at VolunteerMatch! United States History I. Introduction United States History, story of how the republic developed from colonial beginnings in the 16th century, when the first European explorers arrived, until modern times.
Anti-Corruption: The Global Fight is a new handbook from IIP Publications that outlines the kinds of corruption, their effects, and the ways that people and governments combat corruption through legislative and civil society actions.