Peace Corps Volunteers Use Their Blogs to Broaden Perspectives
Technology has changed the way the world communicates – including how Peace Corps Volunteers share the stories and experiences from their service. In recognition and encouragement of this shift, Peace Corps hosted the first-ever Blog It Home competition in 2013. This competition invited current Peace Corps Volunteer bloggers to submit their blogs for a chance to win a trip back to the United States to share their countries and blogging experience with Peace Corps staff and the American public. The winning bloggers, selected for their focus on using their blogs to increase cross-cultural understanding, included Jedd and Michelle Chang of Portland, Ore., Volunteers in Jamaica; Joshua Cook and Jennifer Klein of St. Paul, Minn., Volunteers in Ethiopia; Sara Kline of Los Angeles, Calif., a Volunteer in Thailand; and Jessica Lavash of Tracy, Calif., a Volunteer in Mexico.
“We started our blog because we wanted a fun, interactive way to share our adventure with our friends and family,” Jedd Chang said. Over time, that purpose evolved and the Changs began to see the platform as a means to address American stereotypes of Jamaica. “People tend to have an overly simplified view of Jamaica. Blogging has the power to break down stereotypes and more accurately represent a country. There are more than 7,000 Volunteers in more than 70 countries each with their own unique experiences and perspective about their country. If everyone blogged, people would have that much greater understanding of each of those countries”
While in Washington, D.C., the bloggers shared many tips for other Volunteers who want to use their blogs to share the cultures of their countries of service. For example, Jessica Lavash focuses on making her posts relatable for her readers. “This way, even if my readers have never lived in a different country, they can imagine what that must be like and can empathize a bit more easily with different perspectives and worldviews,” she explains. “I write so that my grandmother, who has never been to Mexico, can read and understand the content.”
Sara Kline recommends that Volunteers share their passions through their blogs. “Regardless of one’s point of interest, an effective blog is led by a writer who engages his/her readership in those experiences that truly interest the blogger. If you’re excited, the chances your posts will get the readers excited as well.”
Jen and Josh find that blogging helps them stay active. “When our work at site is moving slowly, blogging is a great way to remain constructive. After all, sharing our experience with our American audiences is 1/3 of our job as Peace Corps Volunteers!”
Last updated Sep 09 2014
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