Why Peace Corps?

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on September 24, 2009

I anticipate this question to come up frequently in the coming weeks and months.

When I was sixteen years old, I traveled as a People to People student ambassador to Western Europe (Greece, Italy, France, and England). This was my first trip abroad without my family and it lasted three weeks. The itinerary included historical landmarks and tastes of the local culture, but I left Europe unsatisfied. I wanted to live in these places and speak the local language. Sometime after I returned home, I learned about a program called the Peace Corps. I remember requesting an application (fully aware I was ineligible given my age) and pouring over all the materials. Each piece of the application packet was spread over the floor as I drank in each word of the volunteers’ stories.

I enjoyed my entire senior year of college off-campus. In the fall semester, I studied abroad in Shanghai, China. I would finally acquire the cultural immersion I desired!…or so I thought. I traveled to China without any expectations for the months ahead – I knew no one, barely spoke the language, and only had an address to guide me when I arrived. In three and a half months, I studied the language, traveled the country, ate several times a day (delicious and cheap!), and developed great friendships – still I yearned for more time abroad.

No matter where I’ve gone or what I’ve done, the dream to serve in the Peace Corps has followed me. Over a year ago, I decided to make that dream into a personal goal. I am determined to reach it.

A google search on “peace corps distance relationships” led me to Shaun Lyons’ blog on which a speech by John F. Kennedy is posted. As JFK eloquently describes,

“The initial reactions to the Peace Corps proposal are convincing proof that we have, in this country, an immense reservoir of such men and women–anxious to sacrifice their energies and time and toil to the cause of world peace and human progress.

In establishing our Peace Corps we intend to make full use of the resources and talents of private institutions and groups. Universities, voluntary agencies, labor unions and industry will be asked to share in this effort–contributing diverse sources of energy and imagination–making it clear that the responsibility for peace is the responsibility of our entire society.

We will only send abroad Americans who are wanted by the host country–who have a real job to do–and who are qualified to do that job. Programs will be developed with care, and after full negotiation, in order to make sure that the Peace Corps is wanted and will contribute to the welfare of other people. Our Peace Corps is not designed as an instrument of diplomacy or propaganda or ideological conflict. It is designed to permit our people to exercise more fully their responsibilities in the great common cause of world development.

Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed–doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language.

But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps–who works in a foreign land–will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace.”

President John F. Kennedy
March 1, 1961

Why not Peace Corps?

Tagged with:

My RSVP to Peace Corps

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on September 8, 2009

“Congratulations Diana and welcome to the Peace Corps! Your place in the Morocco program has now been confirmed. Good luck and enjoy yourself in the toughest job you’ll ever love!”

Needless to say, I accepted my invitation to serve as a Health Educator in Morocco. I’m excited.

Next items: passport, final clearances, and CV/aspiration statement.

Tagged with:

An invitation to serve

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on September 3, 2009

My Peace Corps Invitation Kit arrived in the mail today. Finally! Here are the words I’ve been waiting to see:

“Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that we invite you.

The next step is up to you.

We appreciate your desire to make Peace Corps service a part of your future. We look forward to hearing from you soon.”

Another step forward. Yay!

Tagged with: