A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend an information session about the Peace Corps, led by one of their recruiters. Due to this event being planned fairly sudden, I was one of four students to attend. Under normal circumstances, this would seem unfortunate for the Peace Corps recruiting process, but the recruiter, Travis, said he had been very productive during the career fair earlier that day. With that concern addressed, being one of four students thus became quite the privilege as he was able answer our specific questions.
The Peace Corps is a governmental organization started by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Their mission is to make a difference in the communities of low income countries worldwide by sending volunteers to villages where their presence has been requested. Travis himself volunteered in Indonesia before returning home to work for the domestic side of the Peace Corps. Volunteering entails two and a half years spent abroad. You can apply for a specific country or for a specific job, or you can apply with the willingness to go anywhere and work at anything. All of your necessities are paid for, and you get a personal stipend as well as 2-3 months of on the ground language and cultural training.
From what Travis told us, this is something I think I would love to do. I’d get to make a difference while having my own worldview impacted. I’d learn a new language, gain new skills, and find a new appreciation for the variety that exists in the world. I often find it so easy to forget there’s a world outside my own country, that there are other ways of living or thinking beyond my own. The only requirements are that the applicant is at least 18 years old and an American citizen, both of which I fill. It is a competitive program (only 15% or so of applicants are accepted each quarter), but if I start orienting myself towards this goal now, I think I could make myself a competitive applicant by the time I’m ready to apply. It would definitely be at least four years from now, if not more.
The dedication required to volunteer for the Peace Corps is daunting, and it wouldn’t be easy, but just think: In five years, I could be on the other side of the globe, making the world a better place.