Disclaimer: The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.
Many people don’t understand, and some never will understand the draw of moving to a foreign country for 27 months to work with underserved communities and contributing to participatory development projects. Quizzical looks cross their faces…so you want to live in a hut? there won’t be any running water or electricity? My honest answer is that I don’t know yet. While I know I’m headed to South Africa in early July, the nature of my experience remains a mystery, my site placement will remain unknown until I near the end of training, and the experiences I encounter will certainly differ from those even current volunteers know.
Peace Corps is something I initially considered upon returning from serving as a Phoenix Sister Cities Youth Ambassador to Chengdu, China the summer before my senior year in high school. At that point, I was determined to pursue a career that would enable me to work internationally, though in what respect I remained unsure. Over the course of my college career, I expanded my international experience through study abroads in Brazil and Chile, volunteering in Ecuador, an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Suriname, and all complemented by the pursuit of a degree in Global Political and Economic Development. These experiences combined with the exposure to returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) heightened my desire to serve as a PCV.
The nature of Peace Corps allows for development on a personal and maybe even community level, but when the efforts of those involved are combined globally, enables real improvements. I’m not naive, I don’t expect to change the entire world over the course of my service, but I do hope to make an impact on those around me, to encourage pursuit of secondary and maybe even higher education or to instill a love of reading or running in a child who feels they lack these abilities. During my service, I expect for my community members to impact me as much if not even more so than I can possibly impact them, but these interactions will contribute to a future in development or diplomacy, in which there is the potential to make greater waves.