4 Benefits of Joining the Peace Corps
You may or may not know this about me, but I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. My service ended in 2015, and readjusting the United States has been… nearly as adventurous as my 27 months in Botswana. I always wanted to be a Peace Corps Volunteer, but until I got there, I didn’t really understand just how it would change my life. I’d like to share 4 benefits of joining the Peace Corps with you today.
You learn new ways to communicate
In Botswana, even though I learned the local language, Setswana, I had a hard time using it. I wasn’t confident. Remembering conjunctives was hard. We developed what we called a “village voice”, which is a practiced and stressed version of english that we hoped made it easier to be understood.
I never pronounced my village’s name right, even though most everyone else couldn’t say it at all.
When the little kids would rush up to me, I would say “Dumela, bana” and give them a high five, or a hug. I lived for those days.
My coworkers at the school thought I was bossy. I think maybe they didn’t know the word assertive.
You have to integrate in your community and it starts by being active, and showing up. Some days all I did was sit in a room, and read a book. Quite often, those days were more meaningful to my co-workers than the days I actually worked.
You get to explore a place entirely different from the United States
I admit my lack of traveling during the Peace Corps was my greatest regret. I found a place I liked, and I went there three times, instead of going somewhere else.
But I did get to see Namibia. And I got to see these things:
Many times Botswana would remind me of home. Oh, you have a car? I too have a car. You have a tree? I too have a tree. I see you have a dog. Yes, I know dogs. And then other times, they give you directions like, “and then you turn left at the robot” (and the t on robot is silent) and it takes you a solid twenty minutes to realize they mean the stop light.
Making a promise to keep the 10 expectations of a Peace Corps Volunteer and actually meeting the expectations are two very different things.
It is a lot of pressure to be an example of America. I am one person. And I am not you. You are one person, and even though we’re both american, you and I are two very different people with different ideals, life experiences, and even different ideas on what it means to be an American, and how to accurately be a representative of our country.
I think Core Expectation #3 is probably the hardest part. Even though I had it relatively easy, even my hardships became unbearable. I stayed through it, but I wonder a lot if I should have. My friends have horrible stories about bats living on their ceiling. I had a fairly persistent cockroach infestation. Some didn’t have electricity until the middle of their second year. My friend, just a village down the road from me, didn’t have running water for over 18 months.
No, the living conditions weren’t the hardship that became unbearable for me. It was my health.
You learn just how strong, resilient, clever, and passionate you can be
If you’ve been in the Peace Corps, you know exactly what I mean. I am a totally different person now, than I was before. The Peace Corps transformed my entire life in ways I’m still discovering. I’m not as shy, or quiet. I used to have a hard time standing up for myself. I didn’t want to stand out in a crowd. And I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do with my career and my life.
Today, I speak clearly with my own voice. I am the best advocate for my health. I regularly make fun of myself in front of large groups, and I’m here, guiding millennials into the next phase of their careers.
See if the Peace Corps is right for you.
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