Skip to main content

Questions and Answers (part two)

What is the Peace Corps all about, anyway?


Most people tend to have a vaguely positive impression of the Peace Corps, but couldn't really tell you what it does, exactly. Some people I've talked to think it's some kind of anti-war group, and others think it's a institution for cultural imperialism. Both are inaccurate.


First, let me show you where the Peace Corps operates today, and then I'll explain its philosophy.


You better appreciate this map; it took me a long time to fill in all of these countries.
The darkly shaded countries are the ones in which the Peace Corps currently works, and the lightly shaded countries are sites of past projects. Often, volunteers are pulled out a country if the political situation is getting too hairy, but will be replaced after relative stability is reached. Notice that North America, Australia, Japan, and Western Europe are excluded. Also note that almost all other countries have at one time or another been included (noticably absent is Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and several Middle-Eastern countries).


As you might have guessed by now, the Peace Corps necessarily involves itself in developing countries. There are actually three goals of the Peace Corps:

  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
In other words, it's part cultural exchange, part trained volunteerism. As to the trained men and women, they can be almost anything: engineers, doctors, farmers, and teachers are all common Peace Corps roles.

Volunteers (PCVs) go through an initial training period in a group before being assigned their individual site placements. At that point, they typically serve alone. My impression is that, as a Youth Developer (YD), I have a higher chance of having a site-mate.

PCVs are typically issues mountain bikes at their site, as they are not supposed to be driving. We get a living allowance that will cover food and housing (about the same quality food and housing that the community enjoys - we don't want to be the rich American living in the small mansion on the corner).

Although it is possible to drop out early (quitters!), the full Peace Corps term is 27 months. In addition to the primary project which is assigned by my superiors, I am expected to complete a secondary project in this time, a project that is completely my own. This, by the way, is really exciting.

Any questions about the Peace Corps? Leave them in the comments. Or come ask me. If you want.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Clink (New Friends)

Each other is all we have. It's no surprise, then, that when we think about the chapters of our lives, those chapters usually begin and end with the beginning and ending of relationships. My current chapter began in July 2016, when I made the move from Philadelphia to Denver. In many ways, it was the fulfillment of a promise made between Peace Corps friends; Carly, Evan, and I spoke often of our desire to live in the same place some day, and after two wonderful years spent with Kyla, it was time for me to join them.

The great advantage to this arrangement is that Evan and Carly had been cultivating friends in my absence, so upon my arrival last summer, I was met with a wonderful group of people who had been carefully conditioned by Evan and Carly to like me.

Readers of this blog will remember Evan and Carly from my Peace Corps days. They were the closest I had to family for two years, and by the end of our service, we were inseparable.


Evan

Pappy. Pop-pop. Dilly-dally. Evan is know…

Reaction to Dante's Hell as Portrayed in Dante's Inferno

Since its Patristic roots, the Church has struggled with two seemingly contradictory aspects of God's nature. One one hand, God is said to be loving and caring towards his creation. At the same time, however, God is seen as a judge, dealing out justice to all according to their actions. Some Christians have argued that God, due to his overabundance of love, can never punish or cause harm. Other Christians have no qualms in maintaining that a loving God sends people to Hell, even against their own will. Most fall in between these two extremes. I would maintain that Dante's view of punishment in Hell errs on the side of the latter extreme, given the assumption of a loving God as described in Christian literature. The God portrayed in Dante's Inferno punishes based on gross oversimplifications. His God ignores the larger picture of human psychology and sociological influences in addition to the rehabilitative capacities of wrongdoers.

Good parents do not punish their children …

Love in the Peace Corps

I joined the Peace Corps because I wanted to connect with the rest of the world, to see life from the perspective of the oppressed, to spread joy and wonder and curiosity to new places. I did not join, in other words, to find a girlfriend.
Why was it then, that as soon as I walked into my hotel in Philadelphia, I felt like a college freshman? I couldn't get through my first elevator ride without my heart-rate increasing and my breath shortening.
The feeling returned during our introductory meetings: the nervousness, the flurry of disordered thinking that accompanied moments of eye contact.
Damn you, body. Why must you sabotage everything good in this world?
I talked this over with my friend Ted on day one in Morocco. I was prepared for the bugs and dirt and cultural difficulties that come with Peace Corps, but nothing could prepare me for the onslaught of charming, independent-minded, attractive girls that I would be meeting throughout those first weeks. He agreed. It was eerie how ma…