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Peace Corps

Houndstooth

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Recently I've been thinking about a career change. Being single and able to move at will, the Peace Corps has entered my things I'd like to try before I go.
Has anyone of you been in the Peace Corps or do you know anyone who has? And, what did you think of the time spent.
 

Mentos

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I did Peace Corps. It's a big, complicated decision. If you do it, do it on your terms. Retain control over where you go and what you do. Volunteer experiences are wildly uneven, and what works for one person can be pure hell for another (in terms of job, country assignment, living situation). There is a lot of uncertainty inherent in the experience, but you should not be afraid to get clarity when you can, even though Peace Corps bureaucrats will constantly tell you that you need to be flexible. They tell you this because they know far too little about what types of situations they're sending their volunteers into.

It is a physically trying, frequently lonely experience. Living in another culture completely on that culture's terms is draining and can lead to some hostility. You don't always feel like you're really created something valuable to the host country. On the other hand, I did it just after finishing undergraduate, and it was life-changing. My perspective is totally different from what it was before living abroad. There is almost no other program in the world that offers a long-term immersion with such extensive support. Almost all my best friends are people who served with me, and I got back several years ago.
 

Condor

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I know of two people. It's been a long time for both.
One went in the early 90s. He didn't get to pick the place
but they told him most likely south america. They sent
him to botswana. He lived more than a day's journey
to where he could buy toothpaste. Lived in a little hut and
had to grow his own garden to have food. He was supposed
to teach science and math, with no supplies, and also, the
students didn't want to learn at all. His mother started dying
of cancer and they wouldn't let him come home. She died
while he was there. He wished he hadn't done it.
He was well in his 40s when he did this.

The other person, I think went in the early 90s also. I was
a contractor and he was a Federal employee. He had the unlimited
arrogance and I never really liked him. But he did go to South
America, and lived in a good place, basically helping people
build wells for water. He seemed to have thought it was a good experience.
I think he was in his early 20s when he did this. It also guarentees
you a high paying Federal job, which he got.
 

why

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Anyone else have any experience with this? I'm thinking of joining but only know of one person who's done it and I haven't heard from her about the experience thus far.
 

quevola

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I was a PC volunteer in the early 90s in Guatemala working in nutrition and health projects. I joined right out of college and had an awesome experience. It was great having the freedom to travel and expand my world view.

I think the biggest frustration volunteers face is the language barrier. Although you do go through 3 months of language and cultural training, for many volunteers (particularly older volunteers) it is not enough. Language wasn't an issue with me since I already spoke Spanish going in.

Always keep in mind that volunteers can go home anytime they want, so if you are not liking the experience there is no shame in returning home.
 

WSW

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I'm actually currently serving and I can definitely say that it has been a great experience so far. I think if you go into your service with an open mind and a willingness to try anything new, you'll easily integrate into your host community. The key to being satisfied here is to develop a circle of local friends. You won't get lonely that way and it'll help tremendously with your volunteer work. And nowadays, many of the Peace Corps countries have access to the Internet so it's still easy to stay in touch with friends and family back home. Work is very different from what we're used to back home. You will have much more free range, and no fixed assignments. Basically, you'll have to keep yourself busy and find your own work. It'll be very satisfying once you start getting results.

Anyways, I'd definitely recommend the Peace Corps to anyone who wants to join.
 

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