“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.”
– John F. Kennedy
I’m a day late, but I figured it was important to mention the fact that March 1st marks the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps. Since 1961 when John F. Kennedy signed the executive order over 200,000 volunteers have served through Peace Corps in 139 countries. They’ve done it all: built latrines, dug wells, educated students, planted crops, introduced new technologies, organized communities and even demonstrated how to correctly put condoms on bananas. They’ve arrived and continue to arrive in communities that may have never even seen an American before and slowly become a part of these communities by learning the language, eating the food, and building one on one relationships with the people in pursuit of sustainable, meaningful, grassroots development, or, more simply: a better future for all.
I am proud to be currently serving with 8,600 other volunteers in 77 countries worldwide (shoutouts to my fellow PCMI students Brad and Jane in Azerbaijan, Pat and Caitlin in Mozambique, Gena in Cameroon and Garett on St. Vincent’s Island and all of my fellow PC Guatemala volunteers) and deeply appreciate the services of those that have come before me and paved the way – particularly my dear friends Jordan (Madagascar 2008-2009) and Tim (Kazakhstan 2007-2009) who inspired me, answered my endless questions over lunches and coffee dates and continue to support me via motivational facebook messages and mix cds in the mail. And I want to thank those of you who are reading because by doing so you are helping me to achieve Goal #3 and because you are the same people sending me the letters, boxes of candy and other demonstrations of love that keep me going – you are an integral part of this journey.
There are a many things that could be said about the organization and millions of stories that could be shared (with hopefully many more to come), but I’ll just leave you with this video from Peace Corps for now.