You, Volunteer

The shared values and goals of Peace Corps Volunteers.

By Rebecca Irmen Bowlen - Peace Corps Volunteer, Niger (1986 - 1988)

Dedicated to the poet William Stafford for his poem, “You, Reader”


Any time you can serve

and integrate with people of distant lands.

Any day provided with the proper guidance

you can promote peace.

At the edge of deserts and jungles, vistas beckon

offering endless opportunities.  That spirit of mutual respect

wavers not, whispering, "Community."

So many traditions and cultures to experience

that you harken to their call -

conditions of hardship will test your mettle,

and push you farther than ever thought possible.

Places faraway in their brilliance and beauty

will define you for the days and years to come

no matter where you land next in the world.

You seek to understand others and they you,

despite barriers of language.  The gift of your trust

will echo and resound as friendship

magnified, shared with all you encounter.

And this - your adventure - defines our values.

Then, return and bring the world home.


This poem was entered in the returned Volunteer category for the 2015 Peace Corps Poetry Contest. The contest received more than 1,000 submissions, representing over 50 years of Peace Corps service in more than 100 countries.

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